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Full text of "Racial Problems In Asia"

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RACIAL PROBLEMS 
IN ASIA 



by 
D. N. MAJUMDAR 

and 
IRAWATI KARVE 



INDIAN COUNCIL OF WORLD AFFAIRS 

NEW DELHI 

1947 



THE INDIAN COUNCIL OF WORLD AFFAIRS is an unofficial and non- 
political body, founded in 1943 to encourage and facilitate the 
scientific study of Indian and International Affairs. 

The Council, as such, does not express any opinion on any aspect 
oj Indian or International Affairs. Any opinions expressed in this 
monograph are, therefore, the opinions of the author and not those 
oj ihe Council. 

D. N. MAJUMDAR is Reader in Anthropology in Lucknow 
University. He was President of the Anthropology Section of the 
Indian Science Congress in 1939. In 1946 he was asked by the 
Anthropology and Psychology Section of the National Council of 
Research, USA to write a memorandum on Anthropology in 
India. Among his publications are A Tribe in Transition and The 
Peaces And Cultures of India. 

IRA W ATI KARVE has been Reader in Sociology in the Deccan 
College Post-Graduate and Research Institute since 1939. She was 
the President of the Anthropology and Archaeology Section of the 
Indian Science Congress, 1947. Among her subjects of research 
have been ' Kinship Terminology and its Social Significance,' and 
1 Systematic Anthropometric Measurements including Blood-Group 
Determinations of the Indian Population '. 

First Published August 1947 



For copies apply to : 

THE INDIAN COUNCIL OF WORLD AFFAIRS 
Canning Road, New Delhi 



CONTENTS 

RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA D. N. Majumdar . . 1 

RACIAL CONFLICT Irawati Karve . . 27 



RACE AND REASON 

A discussion of race problems must be preceded by a proper 
knowledge of the laws of heredity, while any account of modern 
genetic principles in their application to medicine and the social 
sciences must not ignore the race problem as such. But the treat- 
ment of race problems as is usually done by scientists, not to speak 
of laymen or politicians, has clouded rather than cleared our under- 
standing of the race factor in our social relations. Even men of 
science, who are accredited leaders of thought and practice in their 
own specialised branches, often behave like laymen when they 
overstep the frontiers of their particular branch of science. Much 
of the pseudo-scientific dogmas about heredity and environment, 
race and racial welfare have been the direct results of their 
unbalanced statements based on insufficient or even incompetent 
knowledge of scientific facts. Truth certainly cannot be advanced 
by denying the existence of large groups of mankind ' characterised 
more or less by distinctive physical traits '. Neither is it served by 
emphasising taxonomic differences or suggesting as some do, that 
the races of mankind are ' species ' as they have originated from 
different l species of apemen '. 

Slight metrical differences, a little difference in the shade of skin 
colour, or the texture of the hair have been seized upon by 
anthropologists to distinguish races and sub-races. Coon in Europe, 
Guenther and Eickstead in Germany, Ronald B. Dixon in America, 
Chi Li in China, Ruggeri in Italy and others have created a large 
number of races and sub-races on the basis of slight differences. 
The reality of the race situation today, as it was even in the 
palaeolithic age, is admixture, blends and combinations, and no 
nation or so-called race, today, can be taken to represent any ethnic 
type in the sense physical anthropology understands it. 

What is Race ? 

The use of the word race in scientific literature, in a zoological 
sense, is credited to Buffon whose six-fold classification of mankind 
is said to be based on rigid marshalling of available scientific 
evidence on race relationships. Huxley defined race as a zoological 
term. Race today is understood more in a genetic sense. Genetic 
characters are those which depend on genes and do not vary under 
the stress of external circumstances. In recent years, genetic 

I 



MAJUMDAR 

analysis of human racial differences is restricted to the determina- 
tion of blood groups and their frequencies in different geographical 
localities. A large mass of blood groups data exists on the basis 
of which various theories of race relationships have been suggested. 
The four'blood groups O, A> B & AB are found to have a capricious 
distribution. Yet it is possible to map out the migration of blood 
and if we correlate the group frequencies with the history of human 
dispersion from pre-historic times onward, we may get some 
explanation of race movements and stabilisation of race types in 
particular geographical regions. 

Bernstein advocated a theory in which he claimed an original 
pure race, in which neither A nor B agglutinogen existed. This 
was the R-race. A B-race has arisen from this R-race somewhere 
in Asia, and an A-race had its centre of characterisation somewhere 
in Europe. If this theory could be proved, then probably it would 
have laid the foundation of a genetic classification of races. Ruggles 
Gates has reinforced this hypothesis by his mutation theory, which 
claims A and B as independent mutations from O. Statisticians, 
however, doubt the validity of the mutation hypothesis^ as the 
present frequencies of four groups would have required at least 
a quarter of a million years if not more. Earlier investigations 
among isolated and peripheral people had shown the absence of 
the four blood groups, particularly among the Amerindians, but 
later research detected concentration of all the groups in the human 
race, and even anthropoid apes are found to possess all the four 
blood groups in varying proportions. 

A racial classification on the basis of serological data was made 
by Ottenberg (1925) who divided the people of the world into 
six ' strikingly different types viz., (1) European, (2) Intermediate, 
(3) Hunan, (4) Indo-Manchurians, (5) Africa-South-Asiatic and 
(6) Pacific-American '. Snyder found seven types on the basis of 
genie frequencies or p.q. factors : (1) European, (2) Intermediate, 
(3) Hunan, (4) Indo-Manchurian, (5) Africo-Malayasian, (6) 
Pacific-American and (7) Australian. In all these classifications 
the European has been found to belong to a distinct serological 
type due to the large incidence of A and little of B, while the Indo- 
Manchurian group is distinguished from other groups for its large 
B percentage. If both A and B are mutations from O, the serologi- 
cal evidence cannot account for racial differences. Although a 
large percentage of B is found among the various castes in India 
and its incidence increases eastward: the Paniyans, a prqto- 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN 

Australoid tribe have 60% A and 20% B, while most of the 
primitive tribes in India show comparatively small incidence of B. 
A bio-chemical index was worked out by Hirszfelds. The Europeans 
were found to possess a higher bio-chemical index than most other 
races. In the case of most of them the index was found to be above 
2-5. Below is given the bio-chemical indices of the various castes 
and tribes in India (All authors). 

Bio-Chemical Index 



Above 2 



Between 2 and 1 



Below 1 



Konyak Nagas 3-1 Khasis 
Paniyans 4-1 Anglo-Indians 


1 Bengali Kayasthas 
1-7 Mahisyas of Bengal 


83 
59 


Angami Nagas 2-8 Bengali - 


Bengal-Muslims Urban 


96 


Lusheis 2 25 Brahmans 


1-0 Do. (Rural) 


65 


Khasas of the 


Bagdis of Bengal 


75 


Himalayas 


1-05 U.P. Kayasthas 


71 


Korwas 


1-46 


Chamars 


54 


Bhoksas 


1-86 


Doms 


62 


Mundas 


1-02 


Tharus 


63 


Chenchus 


1*73 


Criminal Bhatus 


64 


Nairs 


1-50 


Karwals 


65 






Shias 


78 






Sunnis 


66 






Kshattriyas 


85 






Brahmins 


93 






Kurmis 


68 




Todas 


63 




Rajputs 


89 




Pathan 


94 




Maria Gonds 


82 




Marhattas 


83 




Syrian Christians 


94 



The bio-chemical index calculated from Indian data does not 
justify any classification of the races which puts the Europeans 
into a distinct serological category, for the only groups whose 
serological index was found to be about 2 5 were Paniyans, Konyak 
Nagas and the Angami Nagas. In other words, the Mongoloid and 
the Australoid or proto-Australoid tribes, fall under Hirszfelds' 
Europeans types ; the Lusheis, the Chenchus, the Bhoksas, the 
Karwas, the Anglo-Indians, the Nairs fall betweeh 1-0 and 1-9 and 
the rest of the groups have an index of 1 and below. Nothing 



MAJUMDAR 

therefore can be derived from the distribution of the bio-chemical 
index. The chosen limits are arbitrary. A modified race index 
was calculated by Wellisch on the basis of gene frequencies but 
the results did not instil greater optimism than that provided by 
Hirszfelds' index, Ottenberg found the blood groups remarkably 
stable where there was little or no racial admixture. The high 
incidence of O among the peripheral or isolated people has been 
regarded by Snyder as an indication that 'the majority of the 
peoples with a proportion of O exceeding 50% are island peoples, 
or peoples living in regions more or less isolated, and so physically 
less liable to mixture '. The variation of the O percentages in India 
as found among the various samples investigated is given below. 



O in the samples investigated 
(All authors) 



Chamars 


36*30 


Mundas 


33-33 


Angami Nagas 


46 06 


Kayasthas 


36-0 


Chenchus 


37-00 


Lusheis 


32-63 


Domas 


36-0 


Paniyans 


20-00 


Lonyaks 


45-70 


Shias 


35-91 


Maria Gonds 


28-46 


Khasis 


35-17 


Brahmins 


34-30 


Todas 


29-50 


Anglo-Indians 


37-28 


Muslims 




Black Jews 


73-60 


Bengali-Brahmans 


35-20 


(general) 


32-58 


Nairs 


38-80 


Kayasthas 


32-00 


Khasas 


30-67 


Syrian 


36-40 


Mahishyas 


32-50 


Kshattriyas 


30-83 


Christian 


._ 


Muslims 


23-33 


Kurmis 


34-30 


Mahrattas 


29 -25 


Muslims (Urban) 


33-10 


Bhoksas 


30-80 


Rajput 


28-80 


Bagdis of Bengal 


29 93 


Karwas 


25-83 


Pathan 


29-30 






Bhatus 


27-48 


Jat 


33 20 






Tharus 


27-10 










Khattris 


32-00 











The general conclusion that suggests itself on the basis of the 
above data is that the incidence of O in India is nearly equal in 
all provinces and about one third of the observed frequencies are 
of O blood, The Naga tribes like the Konyak and the Angami 
have the highest O among the tribal groups, the proto-Australoid 
tribes except the Paniyans have all more than 30% O, the higher 
castes in India have a comparatively higher value for O than the 
lower castes, and in one viz., the Black Jews of the Deccan the 
O percentage was found as high as 73-60%. The lowest O also 
was found among the Paniyans. If is the core out of which other 
groups have been evolved, as held by some serologists, then the 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

distribution of O in a population may indicate the degree of racial 
purity, an assumption which, however, is extremely unsafe to make 
with the serological data available till now. 

An attempt has been made by us in the United Provinces 
anthropological survey to find out the racial significance of blood 
groups/ 1 ' The serological evidence is not enough to indicate racial 
distance between social types though, when these are read along 
with anthropometric data, a general measure of race affiliation and 
distance can be found out. 21 samples were tested, and their inter- 
relations examined. It was found that the various social types 
in the Province could be arranged in a scale of racial precedence 
so that as we proceed down the scale, the racial status of the groups 
diminishes till we come to the tribal elements, whose distance 
from the high caste groups is definite and pronounced. We took 
two mixed samples and we arranged the other samples on the 
basis of their distance from them. On one side we found all the 
higher castes, on the other the various tribal groups. This was 
the broad picture, but when we attempted to compare the various 
castes among themselves we found that the differences in most 
cases were not statistically significant a fact which probably 
showed that there was little correspondence between race and 
occupation, for most of the castes are normally occupational t|roups. 

What is true of blood groups today is that there is a higher 
frequency of A in Europe, of B in Asia and the peripheral people ; 
primitive peoples of the world show little or negligible incidence 
of B or AB groups. Malone and Lahiri, Macferlane, and Majumdar 
who have done extensive serological surveys in India, find a 
sufficiently high concentration of B in India and the intensity is 
maintained in China, Mongolia, Japan and in Malayasia. Recent 
efforts to study blood-groups on caste and community basis in 
India have shown that A diminishes significantly from the high 
castes to low castes while the latter show a preponderance of B, 
which, however, is not found among tribal groups in India. Both 
Macfarlane and Majumdar have suggested hybridisation as a 
significant factor in determining a concentration of B among mixed 
castes, while the latter has found a high B percentage among those 
social groups castes and tribes in India who are exposed to 



*Majumdar, Race Elements in Cultural, Guj. Res. Soc. Publication (1946). 

5 



MAJUMDAR 

unhealthy and inhospitable regions or are habitual victims of 
Malaria. 

The fluctuations of blood groups in Europe according to 
Woolard and Cleland prove, if anything, that the inhabitants of 
Europe today are thoroughly mixed. Another factor that has 
emerged from large-scale serological surveys in India is that in 
provinces where the race elements are not very different the 
fluctuation in percentages of the various blood groups among the 
social groups examined is more or less parallel. In Gujarat, where 
the Muslims have been recruited mostly from the high caste groups, 
they show a similar blood groups frequency to the latter while 
the Muslims of Bengal, the majority of whom have been converts 
to Islam from the aboriginal and semi-aboriginal classes, show an 
unmistakable serological association with the latter. But blood 
group is only a single anthropological character and should not 
be made to tell more than what it can. Just as mere dolichocephaly 
(long head) or platyrrhiny (flat nose) by itself gives us no clue 
to identity or dissociation of supposedly racial groups. 

The distribution of the Rh factor in the various peoples of the 
world has been claimed to have some racial significance. Although 
our data on the Rh factor are yet scanty as the investigations have 
mostly been confined to the discovery of the relationships of the 
Rh gene with Erythroblastosis featalis, Khanolker and Sanghvi 
(nature, 155, 427-428 : 1945) found only two Rh in a group of 
100 persons tested in Bombay while Greval and Choudhary and 
Dasgupta (1944) found 10% Rh among Calcutta Indians. The 
Chinese (Wiener, Sonn and Belkin, 1945) have 1-5% Eh and 
Asian Indians 7-1% (ibid) but the Negroes show 8-1%, the Jews 
of Canada 8-37% and South Americans (Invernizzi and Yannicelli : 
1944) 17-86%. If 85% of human blood is Rfi+, regional distribu- 
tion may have a racial significance but the percentage variation 
within a country is so small that nothing definite can be proved 
from the incidence of this new factor in human blood. 

When we take serological evidence along with that of 
anthropometry, as for example, shape of the head, of the nose, or 
proportions of the limbs, our taxonomic criteria increase no doubt 
but the results are not very encouraging. Disappointment is bound 
to come when we compare say the Muslims of Bengal with those 
of the United Provinces, or of Gujarat. While the Muslims of 
Bengal and Gujarat are biachycephalic, the Muslims of the United 
Provinces are sub-dolichocephalic, though popular opinion traces 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

the spread of the Muslims from the centre where they ruled for 
centuries. What is, therefore, true of race relationships in India, 
as in other parts of the world, is that there exists considerable 
amount of race mixture and hybridisation among the populations 
of the world. Widely separated races have come together in the 
pre-historic and historic ages, have mixed, blended and even crossed 
till today, even within the same culturally homogeneous popula- 
tion, the range of variation is often found to be greater than between 
two races. 

Races in Pre-historic Times v/ 

Anthropological research has shown that the early members 
of the human family were as diverse in structure and as extensively 
distributed over the world at remote geological times as the races 
are today. Whatever be the common ancestor of man, palseon to- 
logical evidence points to the differentiation of the pre-historic 
races. Some of these became extinct like the Java man and his 
nearest kin the Peking man or even the Piltdown man. The 
geological strata in which the remains of the Java man were found 
can be identified with late pliocene or early pleistocene and, accord- 
ing to the estimate of Prof. Osborne, as early as between 475,000 
to 400,000 years ago. The Heidelberg race must have flourished 
between 375,000 and 175,000 years ago and the massive jaw found 
in the base of the ' Mauer Sands ' in Heidelberg though it shows 
no development of ' chin ' must have been that of a powerful 
human being, for the form of the teeth leaves absolutely no doubt 
about its owner, who was certainly not Simian. The pithecanth- 
ropus or the Java man had the smallest brain capacity, estimated 
at 855 c.c. as compared with 1230 c.c. of the smallest brain capacity 
found in a member of the Neanderthal race. The prominent width 
of the ' bony eye-brow ridges ' above the orbits is similar to that 
of a Chimpanzee and ' greatly exceed those of the Neanderthal race 
and of the modern Australian '. New discovery of the remains" of 
the race in 1936, tiny fragments of the lower jaw, a large portion 
of a massive lower jaw with several teeth intact, an adult skull etc., 
only corroborated the assumption of the Pithecanthropus racial 
types. 

The China man known as Sinanthropus or the Peking man 
discovered in 1927 by Prof. Davidson Black from a single molar 
tooth, which was corroborated by further discovery in 1929 of a 
fairly complete skull together with portions of jaw and teeth, is a 



MAJUMDAR 

close relative of the Java man and is now called Pithecanthropus 
Pekinensis. The Rhodesian man may also be placed as a ' variant 
of the Trinil race ' and shows probably the effects of geographical 
fixation. The Piltdown man whose remains were found in Piltdown 
in Sussex, England, is probably still an enigma, for although his 
brain capacity was slightly higher than that of the Java man i.e. 
1070 cms, it did not equal that of even some of the lowest bram 
types in the existing Australian races ; the thickness of the pieces 
of the skull was nearly double that of the modern European skull, 
while the several kinds of the brain case under no circumstances 
could be identified with Simian forms, a fact which makes the 
' Piltdown race more human in some respects and more Simian in 
others '. In any case, this race though most apelike yet discovered, 
had much in common with modern man, particularly in the absence 
of any prominent or thickened supra-orbital ridge. The age 01 the 
Piltdown race has been estimated to have been between 150,000 
to 50,000 years ago and must have been in the third interglacial 
period. The most talked about pre-historic race whose remains 
were abundant is the ' Neanderthal ' which must have continued 
till the palaeolithic age between 50,000 to 25,000 years ago. They 
were the forerunners of the Cro-Magnon race, the ancestors of the 
present day races. The Neanderthal race also became extinct as 
no trace of them was found afterwards. The features of the 
Neanderthal skulls and skeletons persist in the different races of 
man today, and were probably absent in the Simian types. The 
brain of the Neanderthal man varied from 1200 to 1700 c.c. which 
compares favourably with that of modern man while their 
' overhanging brows and receding forehead find their counterparts 
among the Negroid races '. 

The first discovery of the Cro-Magnon race was in 1864 in 
Gower, South Wales, and the large number of skeletons discovered 
there and subsequently in other parts show that this race overran 
the whole of Western Europe and had most of the features of 
modern man. While the Neanderthals have not left much evidence 
of their intellectual and artistic activity, the Cro-Magnon have, and 
some of their achievements have been assessed by competent 
authorities as equalling those of modern man. Their inventive 
genius for fishing or for the chase must have been remarkable, 
while decorative art reached a high standard of perfection. Thus, 
as in the modern races, so also among the pre-historic races, there 
existed diverse structures and levels of cultural development and 
probably each racial group was stabilised in a particular geographi- 

8 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

cal region. While it provided a fixation of types in particular areas, 
it also led to the extinction of some races as well as cultures. 

Racial Drift 

Although it is difficult to assess the comparative roles of 
hereditary differences and the physical environment in the stabilisa- 
tion of racial types, it is certain that the same race in different 
geographical regions has produced separate blends or combina- 
tions. Movements of population have taken place in pre-historic 
as well as in historic times, due to changes in climatic conditions 
as, for example, the sudden lowering of temperature in Europe 
compelled human and animal groups to seek shelter in caves and 
hill fastnesses while other causes were social upheavels, conquests, 
and warfare. Such widespread distribution of population over 
large areas must have broken down all isolation and encouraged 
free interbreeding. As ' all crosses between man are fertile ', new 
types were formed by hybridisation which must have got stabilised 
in particular regions. All hybrid groups did not and could not 
survive. Mutations have been taking place throughout man's 
struggle with his environment, some of which proved advantageous, 
others not, and therefore certain types continued to perpetuate 
their kind, others lagged behind, ultimately disappearing, leaving 
behind traces only in their skeletal remains or in the remains of 
their handicraft. 

Race Differences 

When the physical anthropologist discusses the morphological 
classification of races, the primary racial type may yield to his 
taxonomic technique, but when investigations are localised and the 
search-light of his technique focussed on the many traits possessed 
by the members of the local group, his classification of types 
becomes valueless until he can prove that the traits on which he 
bases his classification follow known principles of heredity. We 
do not yet know the range of variation of any physical trait in any 
population. The cephalic, nasal, facial, and orbitonasal indices, 
stature, weight, haemoglobin percentages, even blood pressure and 
temperatures to name only a few, vary within a given population 
in the same way as they do between races so that unless we know 
the relation between inter-group and intra-group variability of the 
many anthropometric and somatological traits used for purposes 
of classification the problem of races will remain insoluble. 



MAJUMDAK 

Race Elements in China 

What was true of the palaeolithic age, is more true of the 
present, and any analysis of race relationships in any country will 
show the extent of hybridisation and the strength of blends and 
admixtures. 

On the basis of craniological data from various sources includ- 
ing those of the specimens from the Anatomical Museum of Mun- 
chen, and of Haberer, Reichr and Flower, there are 33*77/o doli- 
chocephals and 66-23^ brachycephals in China. The dolichoce- 
phals are both leptorrhine and platyrrhine, about 40 r ,o being 
platyrrhine. Of the brachycephals, there are 45% platyrrhine and 
the remaining are leptorrhine ; the total percentage of brachyce- 
phals in China is about 40' 7 c. The majority of the people are hyp- 
sicephalic. The dolichocephalic and leptorrhine element is found 
mostly in Shantung and the dolichocephalic platyrrhine element in 
Kansu and Kwangsi. In the Yangtse valley, the dominant type is 
brachy cephalic, while the mesocephalic which is the dominant type 
in China, according to Chi Li, of the Tsing Hua Research Institute, 
is * the cross of the two types '. As one proceeds to the South 
there, the stature goes down while a low-headed type appears 
with a dwarfish stature. 

The Chinese stature varies from 161-8 cms. in Kwangtung to 
166-1 cms. in Kiangsu and 169-0 cms in Chihli showing distinct 
constellations based on stature, Such differences should not be 
expected within the same race. The Spaniards according to 
Kolmogaroff have an average stature of 162 cms., the linns 
(Wateff) have 166*6 cms., and the Danes (Makeprang and Hansen) 
169*1 cms,, and they belong to different ethnic types. Though 
stature is a variable character and need not be taken as racially 
significant in the same way as other definite skeletal traits, yet 
when it is discussed along with other anthropometric traits it 
becomes significant. Dr. Chi Li finds that 'the three types of 
Chinese stature are correlated with three types of head form and 
three types of nasal form (indices) and this is true for the cranio- 
logical material as well as the anthropometrical although with some 
variations*.* The Formation of the Chinese People, p. 43. 



"Recent investigations (Am. Jew. Phys. Anth. Vol. 4 N. S. No. 3 p. 297) on 
migration and physical differences among the Americans and the Chinese 
show the latitude of changes in physical features of migrant races intoi 
different climatic regions than those to which for generations they were 

10 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

MENTAL INEQUALITIES 

Nothing of scientific value has yet emerged from the study of 
mental differences existing among the known racial types and 
nothing substantial is expected until our techniques are properly 
standardised and the controls effectively applied. Mental tests are 
oft^i made on the assumption that the groups so tested have 
cultural equality. Even the most competent investigator is apt to 
be misled by assuming that any given people in a locality living 
together for generations have similar social status ; group differences 
may exist which may even escape the notice of trained investigators 
but can be evaluated only by those intimately familiar with the 
cultural life of the people. Subjective considerations often have 
militated against the scientific presentation of ethnological data and 
' imperialistic outlook ', has in no small measure interfered with 
the purely objective approach to human data. 

The inferiority of the Negroes to the whites in all respects was 
ably argued by Dr. Hunt, in 1863, in a paper, on ' Negroes' place in 
Nature '. Support for him came from unexpected quarters, some 
admiied his approach to the problem, interested speculators 
thanked him for his objective evaluation. English liberals calmly 
disagreed with him, imperialists found justification for their 
missionary zeal in trade and commerce from the evidence so care- 
fully sifted by him, and in some quarters of America, Hunt was 
dubbed a philanthropist, his services to mankind eulogised and 
dissenters were pulled up for illiberal naturalisation of scientific 
facts, and for unworthy imputation of motive. Scientific facts today 
are 1oo formidable to warrant acceptance of such pseudo-scientific 
or interested speculations. A grandson of an Alabama slave is 
today one of the foremost chemists in America ; undeterred by 
the constant and unequal fight he was forced to wage against his 
onvironment, he has won his legitimate place in the scientific 



adapted and stabilised. Measurements ol' Chinese males born and raised in 
the United States of America are found to differ in certain specific respects 
from those of Chinese immigrants born in China. These differences consist 
in an increase in stature, and in all measurements of the trunk and limbs 
other than chest depth, of the body indices hand and foot, indices tend to 
be lower in the American born. The descendants of immigrants in America 
compared to their parents born in Europe showed a change in physical 
features, and change of diet from a rice staple to wheat in Northern India 
has affected the rice eating immigrants from Bengal and Madras, with respect 
to the mandibular measurements, bizygomatic and bigonial, both, 

11 



MAJUMDAR 

world. Today his researches have benefited his native country no 
less than that of any other living chemist. Despite handicaps 
natural to coloured races, Negro scientists, authors, philanthropists 
and artists have attained international status and have compelled 
respect for their race in no uncertain way. During the days of 
the slave trade, many slaves were conceded equal or superior status 
on account of their high intelligence. They excelled their masters 
in many cases, but did not get social equality due to their being 
members of inferior races. 

In recent years a lot of data has accumulated on the subject 
of intelligence quotient of groups of children belonging to different 
races and sections of the same race, but no correlation of bodily 
and mental characters could be established which would be 
scientifically unassailable. Brigham, Davenport, and Steggarda 
have provided comparative material on mental differences between 
races. In all these investigations, there was an absence of a com- 
mon denominator for comparative evaluation of mental capacity, 
as the tests were such that they failed to equate the social groups 
with respect to their knowledge of those tests. Brigham, whose 
experiments were acclaimed as most formidable, himself gave his 
verdict against their acceptance, for he said, ' that his claims were 
without any foundation whatever.' Lancelot Hogben scrutinised 
the Jamaican data which were worked out by Davenport and 
Steggarda. The number of adults selected for tests was not 
sufficiently large. Not every effort was made by the investigators 
to ' equalise social conducts between the blacks, browns and 
whites ', as among the blacks and browns investigated by these 
authors, 31 adults were prison inmates, committed for petty larceny 
or acts of sudden violence while no prisoners were included in the 
white groups. Even if the tests are taken as having been properly 
carried out, under controlled conditions, the results were not very 
encouraging as they did not establish any inherent superiority or 
inferiority of the three groups, viz., Browns, Blacks, and Whites. 
For example in pitch, intensity, and time and rhythm tests the 
blacks and browns were superior to the whites, in drawing tests 
the whites excelled the blacks and browns. In puzzles, in detecting 
absurdity of ridiculous statements the whites showed unusual skill, 
and were found outstandingly superior in ability. 

On the basis of the material presented by Davenport and 
Steggarda, Lancelot Hogben came to the conclusion that ' in some 
characteristics of a socially desirable nature the average Negro 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

proved to be a little better and in some cases a little worse equipped 
than the average white included in the investigation '. Most 
anthropologists and psychologists agree with this conclusion. Had 
the environments equalised by a proper selection of the subjects 
for investigation, had the tests been such as would really measure 
innate ability and had the people subjected to such tests been really 
representative of the groups considered, the results would have 
been taken seriously and the difference found would tell what 
is expected of them. The present status of race studies is essentially 
a fluid one, nothing has been proved, nothing can be proved on the 
basis of the present tests and measurements, and nothing that has 
been proved is of any prognostic value. 

RACE MIXTURE 

How far race admixture is taking place in various parts of the 
country will be evident from a reference to the serological data 
available for Muslim population in India and outside. The blood 
groups of the Makranis of Gujarat were examined and 
were found significantly different from the Makranis of 
Baluchistan. The Baluchis, according to Malone and Lahiri 
(Ind. J. Med. Res. 1927; 25) have 47-2% O, 24-3% A, 
24-3% B and 4-2% AB showing comparative isolation accord- 
ing to Snyder. The Makranis of Gujarat, most of whom have 
Baluch fathers and Bhil mothers, have similar A and B and 9 % 
more AB. The total B+AB among the Baluch (Malone and 
Lahiri) is 28-5% while that among the Makranis is 37-05%. There 
is 35-5% B+AB among the Panchmahal Bhils, 37-3% among the 
Rajpipla Bhils, 31-0% B+AB among the Bhils of Western Khandesh 
(Current Science Vol. 14, No. 5, p. 129) . 

The Muslims of India as a general rule differ significantly from 
their co-religionists outside, both with regard to anthropometric 
and serological characters. For example, the Turks have high A 
value and low B value. The total B+AB among them being 25-20% 
while the Calcutta Muslims show 45-70% B+AB, Budge Muslims 
show 48-30%, U.P. Muslims 42-90%, the Shias of U.P. 38-70% 
and the Sunnis 46-20% B+AB. The Syrian Arabs have 28-0% 
B+AB, Syriah Muslims 15-10^ and Tunis Muslims 21-20%. The 
Pathans of the Punjab and the Frontier Province have 39-40%; 
B+AB and the Hazaras 43-0%. With regard to A values the 
Muslims of India show similar dissociation from their co-religionists 
outside. For example, the Turks have 38-0% A, the Syrian Arabs 

13 



MAJUMDAR 

34%, Syriah Muslims 42-20'/, Tunis Muslims 32-40% while the 
Calcutta Muslims have 24-6%, Budge Muslims 23-80%, Sunnis of 
U. P. 22-80% and the Shias 25-50 r /r. 

The stature of the Muslims varies from province to province 
in India. While the UP. Muslims have an average stature of 
162 45 cms, that of the Muslims Waghers is 167 95 cms, of Mianas 
of Cutch 167-37 cms. The Khojas have an average stature of 
164-47 cms, Memons 163-64 cms, and the Sunni Borahs 162-94 
cms. The same kind of variation is noticeable in Cephalic and 
Nasal indices as well. The Parsis who are an immigrant people 
in India have not all maintained their racial purity and both from 
the anthropometric and serological evidences they can be traced 
to more than one ethnic type. Although race admixture has been 
found everywhere, so much so, that today purity of race is indeed 
an abstraction, there are social and legal barriers to admixture 
recognised in most countries of the world inhabited by diverse 
ethnic groups. 

About 30 states in North America have laws prohibiting inter- 
racial marriages. In some states legislation is directed against 
miscegenation with Negroes, in some against the Mongoloids. The 
Southern states contain a large coloured population and the legisla- 
tion is meant to exclude Whites marrying Negroes and vice versa ; 
in the states west of the Mississippi bordering the Pacific with 
large Mongoloid populations the protection refers to marriages 
between White and Mongoloid stocks. Legislation is absent in those 
states where the population is homogeneous and consists of Whites 
alone. In Mississippi not only are marriages between While and 
coloured races prohibited by law, but even suggestions in favour 
of social equality or of intermarriage between Whites and Negroes 
are regarded as offences punishable by fine or imprisonment or by 
both. 

Race, whatever be its biological basis, however, is no expres- 
sion of personality and culture. Biologists today do not concede 
that race presents irreconcilable differences in soul, mind and blood. 
The soul of man is too abstract to be palpably different in shape ; 
the mind is too uncertain to admit of fundamental differences and 
blood is transferable from person to person and even from rppn 
to animal and vice versa, within limits, of course. Race is ' reasoi^ * 
when discussed from a ' laudable zeal for discriminating men ' but 
is ' rubbish ' when the bounds are exceeded. That is why Dahlberg, 
one of the world's great biologists put ' Race, Reason and Rubbish ' 

14 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

on the title page of a book on race biology. Races are susceptible 
to cultivation and therefore the superiority of one race to another 
is at best a myth. 

Racialism, as is known in America and in Europe, is the direct 
offshoot of Imperialism, as the theory of diffusion of culture is an 
inevitable consequence of imperialistic designs to dominate the 
world. As an anthropologist recently remarked, had it not been 
for the exploitation of the coloured races in various parts of tho 
world, the white race would have accepted the French ideal of 
' equality, liberty and fraternity ' in ' word ' and ' spirit '. The 
scramble for Africa, the vast potential resources of Australasia, the 
lifelines of trade and commerce and strategic points in a farflung 
colonial empire have provided the sanction for shocking experience > 
that come in the wake of race conflict and the world needs a clear 
and dispassionate evaluation of racial claims. 

Race amalgamation cannot be tabooed for any biological reason 
that we know of. Mixture may become deleterious if the mixed 
people result from the union of the inferior elements of two races. 
The average mental equipment of one race must be the same as 
that of another however different the achievements of the races 
may be. If two races mix freely the general result cannot be any- 
thing which is not warranted by the possession and equipment of 
the individuals belonging to the two groups mixing. The cases that 
are usually referred to viz., of deliquency, alcoholism, and cacogenic 
traits in a population, are not the result of admixture of races, 
superior and inferior, but of miscegenation. Where there is little 
or no legal sanction for mating between members of two races, 
the inferior elements of both come together, mate and reproduce 
mostly outside wedlock so that it is merely heredity reproducing 
itself, and not a result that would prejudice race admixture. 

Every country today possesses large numbers of endogamous 
groups, who may be described as ' social isolates '. A person marries 
normally more often within his social level than without. Whether 
the castes of India have a racial basis or not, the endogamy 
practised by the castes has certainly channelled blood along 
restricted lines ; small sections of castes also behave as endogamous 
groups, and among them the opportunity for a recessive defect to 
show up is much greater than when the groups are widely based. 
Biologists believe that the break up of ' social isolates ' leads to an 
increased incidence of hetrozygots i.e., of dominant types in the 
resulting population. The increase of stature in some of the 

15 



MAJUMDAR 

European countries in some cases the increase has been 9 cms., 
as among the Swedes may be due to universal medical examina- 
tion, higher standard of living and similar agencies but it is also 
due to the breaking up of social isolation. Stature is not due to a 
single gene but to a number of them which * reinforce each other ' 
and in a heterogeneous group the chances of different genes com- 
ing together must be greater. 

Intellectual development similarly must be traced to the greater 
scope that exists now for inter-mixture and some anthropologists 
agree that in a cosmopolitan city or town, where chances of contacts 
and inter-marriages are higher, the possibility of the intellectual 
level being pushed up must be infinitely greater than among ' social 
isolates '. On the other hand ' different economic and social 
circumstances, different systems of schooling and the like, can 
assuredly produce fundamental differences which have no heredi- 
tary basis '. It is certainly not tragic as racists in Germany used 
to think that the denordicisation of Germany has been going on 
from times immemorial ; on the other hand the progress of Germany 
in science, art and letters must be fairly ascribed to such a process, 
whatever circumstances may have been responsible for it. As 
early as 1897-98 Furst and Retzius came to the conclusion on the 
result of an examination of army recruits in countries of the 
Scandinavian group which are known to be entirely populated by 
the Nordic race, that only 10% of the population could be taken 
to represent the Nordic type. When we scratch a Russian we find 
a Tartar, and the various types of admixture that have taken place 
in different countries, even in those islands inhabited by aboriginal 
people, must weigh down the scales in favour of racial admixture, 
blends, and combinations. 

When different races come into contact and occupy the same 
Country or contiguous parts of it, there is usually a mixture of 
blood, which ultimately establishes new and modified blends or 
combinations of ethnic types. When the races are not very 
dissimilar but friendly, inter-marriage does take place without 
exciting opposition. This is not, however, very easy when the 
migrants have little in common between them and the native 
population. In areas where a particular group, by virtue of its 
superior organisation and military strength, imposes itself upon 
another, differences in social status act as a barrier to the fusion of 
types, though it may be natural for the women of the conquered 
group to supply the marital needs of the superior or the invading 
group. Endogamous groups even have been found to amalgamate 

16 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

where they settle down permanently in a new domicile, but cultural 
differences often have militated against race mixture and even 
different sections of the same race at different levels of culture have 
maintained their endogamy and social isolation. Ignorance of each 
other's cultures have proved an effective barrier to the fusion of 
races, while regional peculiarities have determined the extent of 
admixture. Occupational differences have produced endogamy, 
while a reorganisation of the economic structure of the society has 
pulled divergent elements together to produce new and powerful 
groups. 

While races have mixed and blended, there are pockets in 
which certain racial types have been more or less fixed and stabilis- 
ed. Various factors have tended to perpetuate such isolation and 
group consciousness arising out of it. Some races are backward 
"in their economic, educational and scientific achievements ; others 
have moved forward with astonishing quickness. Such differences 
have provided food for thought and have been traced by some to 
differences in innate ability, but when we discuss the causes of 
such backwardness, we find that such inferiority is the resultant 
of a crop of factors and not merely of innate abilities. Isolation is 
a great barrier to progress. The opening up of the country by a 
vast network of communications, changes in the economic environ- 
ment resulting from it, contacts with other people and the need 
for reciprocity in social life arising out of them have brought 
tremendous changes among ' social isolates ' and the social history 
of most of the parts of our country, when we re-read it, will pro- 
vide valuable data for evaluating the competence or otherwise of 
social groups for progress and survival. 

No one would seriously deny the role of favourable 
circumstances, genial climate, good geographical location and 
similar factors, encouraging as they do trade and traffic, in the 
shaping of cultural progress. Where climate is not favourable, 
even an abundance of energy and ambition in the people has not 
secured rapid cultural progress. How far tropical conditions are 
responsible for arresting cultural progress, is difficult to assess, but 
no one probably would deny the physiological effect that results 
from damp air and increased pressure, viz., nervous depression, 
increased elimination of carbondioxide, slower circulation of blood 
and quiet sleep, not to speak of the effect of savage attacks of animal 
parasites. The only point in which the tropical countries win is 
that indolence, ignorance and depression have not stifled the desire 

11 



MAJUMDAR 

for reproduction. On the other hand they have favoured a rapid 
multiplication of population. 

Lack of natural resources, of coal, iron, fertile soil, good timber 
and the like have circumscribed progress and the economic back- 
wardness of many of the tropical countries is directly traceable to 
nature's partiality in the distribution of her resources. Old and 
worn out political systems, medieval practices, feudal rights and 
obligations have impeded progress in no uncertain way, but when 
such handicaps have been overthrown or their rigours relaxed by 
a reorganisation of the social structure or by revolution, assimila- 
tion of higher culture by a backward nation has not lagged behind. 
Political domination of one race by another saps the springs of 
cultural progress. Even gifted nations have suffered stagnation, 
frustration and decay losing thereby their cultural heritage and 
disintegrating themselves. 

THE ROOTS OF RACE CONFLICT 

Sir Arthur Keith says that nations are ' incipient races '. We 
do not know if they really are. Many nations of today are com- 
posed of different racial stocks, and America is building on a racial 
foundation which draws its strength from all sources. America 
provides an example of how crossings of racial stocks may evolve 
a nation, the elements of which have shown the greatest adaptability 
to the problems of life which that vast country presents. The fact 
that has contributed most to this great experiment is that the 
mixture of the different races has not been produced by the men 
of one race marrying the women of another, but both the sexes 
of the racial groups inter-marrying. Yet, America is infamous 
for race riots, and the intolerance shown by the Whites towards 
the coloured often exceeds the bounds of reason and any sense of 
decency. 

The problem of the Negroes in America or that of the Indian 
immigrants in the Union of South Africa, or the various restrictive 
laws which control immigration in large areas of the globe, or the 
race prejudices that one finds in different parts of the civilised 
world, in Europe and elsewhere, the antagonisms that exist between 
the Americans and the Japanese or between the Jews and the 
Gentiles in New York or between the Mexicans and the people 
of the South Western States, even if each of these conflicts has its 
special aspects, all have the same family likeness and should be 
treated similarly. The most important fact about these conflicts is 

18 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

that the antagonism derives its inspiration from a kind of group 
consciousness which may result from different causes. (1) Race 
conflicts arise between groups which differ from each other by 
some obvious physical traits. (2) Linguistic differences develop 
cultural groups which behave as distinct races and carry their 
prejudices far enough to put the groups into hostile camps. 
(3) Religious differences overshadow social relations and conflicts 
undermine social security and cultural progress. (4) While 
contiguity of residence brings different racial groups into social 
relationships, economic rivalry between closely related groups pro- 
duces unhealthy competition leading to armed conflicts. (5) Race 
friction may result from a lack of knowledge of racial status of the 
immigrant stock, but if the immigrant people have no memory of 
race status, and no traditions in protest of the existing law of the' j r 
native land viz., dissenters and those who want to change to orher 
mores, are likely to be free from race prejudices and easily settle 
down in their new domicile without conflict. 

The Japanese of the Puget Sound region, we are told by 
J. A. Rade-Maker (Race and Culture Contacts p. 184-190), found 
that they were different from the White population in racial 
features, in customs and etiquette, in language, in family standards, 
in food habits and in cultural values. The latter were used to 
Chinese labour and the competition with the Japanese labour 
brought all the differences to a head and conflicts became inevitable. 
In course of time, the Japanese children born in Puget Sound 
began to grow up with the White children, the initial shyness 
disappeared, they began to speak the language spoken by the White 
children and by association with the latter for 12 years or more, 
largely in schools, and also outside, a sort of understanding of each 
other's cultures was achieved. A common language and participa- 
tion in common social and cultural relationship have removed the 
initial reticence and stiffness, producing a real comradeship between 
opposing groups. Wherever racial characters have been found 
associated with economic and cultural competition, the whole has 
formed a mosaic and has prevented fusion of cultures and under- 
standing between groups. 

Race relations in Hawaii have been studied in great detail by 
anthropologists. It is amazing how race conflict has disappeared 
in this part of the world. A visitor today finds no evidence of race 
prejudice. A Negro is treated with the same courtesy as an 
American, both are addressed in the same way by the prefix 

JU 



MAJUMDAR 

4 Mister ' and inter-marriage between men and women of different 
racial stocks takes place without the slightest shrug of shoulders 
or any scuffle. A Negro marries a White woman, and a White man 
a coloured woman without exciting any protest from the respective 
societies. Anybody, particularly a newcomer who does not like 
this kind of egalitarianism, is pooh-poohed as a malahine i.e. a 
stranger ; a few months or a year may convert him into a 
Karnmania or i old-timer ' and he learns to behave. Physical 
differences, differences in racial traits, in inborn and latent 
capacities, and mental inequalities do not very much matter. The 
social codes or mores of social relationship determine race relation- 
ship and no amount of race distance is socially significant in 
Hawaii. 

The racial differences existing in India in different parts of 
the country, between the tall, long-headed and fair-skinned 
inhabitants of Northern India, the medium-statured, broad-headed 
and olive-complexioned people of Central India from Gujarat to 
Bengal, the long-headed, brown-complexioned Mediterraneans 
speaking the Dravidian languages and the proto-Australoids of 
Interior India and the Mongoloid elements in Assam, Burma, aud 
the Himalayas both cis and trcms-Himalayan, have all fitted into 
a pattern of life and living ; and no race conflict, after the initial 
fight between the indigenous and invading races had brought the 
races into closer relationships^ social and sexual, has stirred the 
peace of the country for milleniums. An economy based on co- 
operation between the various racial and cultural groups, tribes 
and castes, has been evolved, which for centuries provided a strong 
bulwark against misunderstanding and conflict. 

The social hierarchy in India which is partly based on race, 
and partly on culture, has answered the claims of ambitious groups 
and has assimilated diverse racial groups into a social pattern in 
which work and worship have promoted a healthy rivalry between 
competing groups of ' Varnas '. So long as status determined 
economic relationships, economic autarchy protected individuals 
from starvation, and social mobility allowed ambitious groups to 
readjust themselves to the social hierarchy, the scope for conflict 
was limited. The continuity of culture from the primitive and 
aboriginal tribes right up to the highest caste viz., the Brahmins, 
has softened differences and stifled antagonism and every social 
group in India shares in some form or other the cultural heritage 
of India. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are sung from 
fields to forests and the myths and legends, anecdotes concerning 

20 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

mythical heroes and great men have filtered into the daily life ol 
the average man. i'he status and influence enjoyed by the 
aboriginal population in ancient India who met on equal terms with 
the ruling elements and were represented in the Indo-Aryan polity, 
did not provide any scope lor misunderstanding or contiict. The 
friendship of ruling chieltains of the tribal pockets which were 
scattered in the hills and fastnesses was secured by the invading 
races by drawing them into social relationship with the latter. On 
the other hand, most of the alliances with tribal chiefs were based 
on inter-marriage in which reciprocity played no inconsiderable 
part. In medieval times and even later on, the mutual goodwill 
between the Hindus and Muslims was translated into practice by 
the two people identifying themselves with each others' life and 
happiness, and the understanding between the two communities 
who lived side by side provided no cause tor antagonism ; on the 
other hand, they developed a unique tolerance to each other and 
even today the countryside is full of amity and friendship, what- 
ever the complexion of the political life of the country today may 
be. India, with her vast population, * Babel ' of tongues, levels of 
culture, inequalities of wealth and racial differences, has not pro- 
duced any race conflict of the kind found elsewhere and the little 
unrest, misunderstanding and signs of hostility that we find today 
have been fostered and fomented by partisan elements and must 
disappear with changing times, and the realisation of the funda- 
mental and abiding interests of the country as a whole. 

The roots of race conflict are many and the tentacles with which 
it flourishes are infinite. Ignorance is the main stem that provides 
the sap for conflict and an infinite passion for fission engulfs coun- 
tries and nations. What is known of the biology of man or of the 
laws of heredity is little or nothing. What is wrongly interpreted 
as the effects of heredity is the magnus corpus which the people 
find difficult to shake off. What is said by partisan scientists is 
very often tacitly accepted and when truth is told, social forces, 
religious bias and preconceptions stifle it before it can establish 
itself. To take an example, Buff on in his early life was a believer 
in evolution, but he latterly advocated a rapid variation of species, 
and postulated a common origin for the horse and the ass, for man 
and ape as well. He believed that the structure of plants and 
animals are modified by environment and the modifications are 
preserved through heredity. But Buffon was so much afraid of 
public opinion that in 1751, he was constrained to recant his scienti- 
fic heresies in the following sentence : * I declare that I had no 

21 



MAJUMDAR 

intention to contradict the text of scripture, that I believe most 
firmly all therein related about the creation, both as to order of 
time and matter of fact '. The fate of the ' mongrel ' has been 
sealed by pseudo-scientific dogmas long before the ' mongrel ' could 
raise its voice to prove its bonafides. ' Nature prevents the develop- 
ment of the mongrel ' said Schultz. ' Nature stamps out the 
mongrel by degrading it and finally eliminating it.' The hybrid is 
usually an outcaste. The social system of India viz., caste, bans 
inter-caste marriage. Even if anuloma marriage is recognised, 
protiloma marriage is tabooed. ' Hybridisation ' leads to disharmony 
in body proportions. That is probably why the children of a 
Kshattriya father and a Brahmin mother, are ' Ugras ' or ferocious, 
those of Sudra by Brahmin mother are ' Chandalas ', the lowest 
status imaginable in the Hindu social system. The Nordics are 
dolichocephak. Only those with a cephalic index of 76 and below 
have great wishes say the racists, l and incessantly they work to 
satisfy them '. They are the Aryan branch of the white race. No 
racial group whether long-headed or broad-headed can be found 
who do not have a cross-section of its people with a cephalic index 
of 76 and below. All the pre-Dravidian or proto-Australoid people 
have a cephalic index less than 76, yet it is the Aryan branch of 
the white race that has won and can win in the struggle of race 
with race and ' survive as the physically and mentally superior 
race '. The average intelligence of one race is the same as that 
of another ; the idiots in one compare favourably with idiots of 
the other, while there may be a difference in the incidence of the 
gifted elements that constitute the vanguard of cultural progress. 
How far environment is responsible for rearing gifted people has 
not been properly evaluated ; besides, so long as the present social 
order is maintained, more and more of the gifted elements are 
likely to be thrown into the common pool, where mediocrity reigns 
supreme. It is, therefore, necessary to dispel ignorance and 
develop a scientific attitude in the minds of common men and 
women towards problems of human biology, of race and racial 
relationship. The common man must be made to understand the 
difference between 'science' and the 'scientist'. Whatever the 
latter says must not be regarded as science unless it can be tested 
and verified. Many of our troubles are due to the lack of 
discrimination on the part of the public, for, whatever they read in 
print they very often accept without question or reserve. 
Knowledge dispels ignorance, and scientific truths must be 
disseminated if we want to free the popular mind from prejudices. 

22 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

Though ignorance is the most potent cause for race conflict, 
superstitions, fear, suspicion and economic rivalry, and desire for 
political domination have contributed, in no uncertain way, to create 
mutual distrust and ill-will between races. A better understanding 
of one another's culture, of the points of view that differ from us, 
of the many angles from which different races view life and 
comforts, is obligatory for any nation which wants to encourage 
peace and happiness within its borders, and goodwill among others. 
Most of our preconceived ideas and prejudices have disintegrated 
and disappeared by closer contacts, and even ' enemies ' have 
become friends and contributed to mutual happiness by closer 
social and personal relationships. If neighbours know and under- 
stand each other, the scope for conflict must necessarily narrow 
down. While injustice, social and political, has aggravated group 
antagonisms, discrimination and disabilities imposed on one race 
by another have stifled the desire for friendship and amity among 
the so-called inferior races ; a broader outlook, a greater regard 
for other peoples' sentiment and ideologies, have brought warring 
racial groups into closer co-operation and have bred goodwill and 
trust. The problem of race and racial conflict is not different from 
that of the family or of the clan as both require knowledge and 
understanding to effect an adjustment of personalities and of 
groups, without which no healthy relations can subsist within the 
family or between races. The more we know of others, and the 
more others know of us, however different we may be in race and 
culture, the greater the goodwill and respect we breed, and with- 
out them even freedom will become a mockery. 



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25 



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RACIAL CONFLICT 

1. The expression racial conflict is used to denote conflict 
between human groups where the conflict is primarily an economic 
struggle strengthened and intensified by all the physical and 
cultural characteristics which differentiate one group from the 
other. Human history bears ample evidence against the belief that 
there is instinctive repulsion of one race against another. There 
are no pure races to-day perhaps there never were any ; but the 
known hybrid population between very diverse racial stocks shows 
that wherever people have met, they have mixed. In fact the 
appropriation of the women of the defeated people, has been a 
privilege of the conqueror since very ancient times. Naturalists 
have described how ants from one nest fight ants from another 
nest, until either the one or the other group is annihilated or put 
to flight. They also describe how this discrimination between 
members of one's own nest and that of another depends on the 
sense of smell and how if the ants of one nest are soaked in the 
juice of another nest, the members of the two nests intermingle 
and work without any trace of animosity. Insects provide many 
(generally false) analogies to human societies. The so-called 
prejudices and antipathies of one race for another are certainly not 
of the type described for the ants above. The attitude towards the 
new and the foreign is made up of many elements and attraction 
and repulsion both form part of it. It has been noted by many 
travellers that the primitive people who came in contact with 
Europeans for the first time did not necessarily show repulsion or 
a fighting attitude. If the immediate demand of the European was 
not against their interest, as they conceived it, it was fulfilled 
willingly. Definitely inimical attitudes are developed when 
personal danger or danger to possession is feared or sensed. Racial 
conflict thus arises out of the struggle for existence and the 
struggle for power and assumes changes in extent and intensity 
according to the material and cultural equipment of the opposing 
groups. 

Human beings have roamed over this earth for six hundred 
thousand years. Remains of pre-human or proto-human bein<^ 
have been found in Java, Australia and China. Remains of human 
SDOCIPS called the Neanderthal man have been found in Italv, 
"nVanne, Czechoslovakia, Germany, etc. It is possible that this 
species was even more widely spread. It had many so-called 

27 



1RAWATI KARVE 

primitive characteristics like a big jaw, a small forehead sloping 
backwards, big supra-orbital ridges, etc., but the most remarkable 
thing about this species was its enormous brain capacity, which 
was on an average bigger than that of the average for any human 
race to-day. It is assumed from the evidence in hand that this 
species has become entirely extinct. And in this fact we are greatly 
interested. The natural history of most animals is full of such 
examples of extinct species. Why do whole species vanish is a 
question one wants to ask. Did the environment change in such 
a way that living was not possible for a particular species or did 
the species, itself undergo mutation and change in such a way, that 
it could not maintain itself by sufficient numbers being born and 
surviving ? Neanderthal man had lived through very rigorous 
ice-age conditions, through changing weather periods for thousands 
of years. Did he, out of tiredness of living bring about the extinc- 
tion of the whole species or did he come into contact with the 
direct precursors of modern humanity and die at their hands ? 
Some recent investigations place the time of the emergence of 
modern humanity, represented by the Swan-combe skull in 
England so far back, that it could well have met and fought the 
Neanderthal man in the neighbouring part of Europe. If this is so, 
then modern man began his life by a very hard and bloody battle 
for existence indeed. However, nothing is yet known about why 
the Neanderthal man died or whether the ancestors of modern 
humanity met and killed him. 

The spatial distribution of modern human races has given rise 
to a great deal of speculation. Most of the primitive people of the 
world live today in what is economically unattractive land for 
farming and pastoral people. Moving word-pictures have been 
drawn of the Bushmen of the Kalahari, the Pigmies of the Congo 
forest, the Veddas of Ceylon, the Negritos of Andaman, the Ona 
of the southern tip of South America, the primitive people of 
Australia and a host of others. In all these it is suggested that 
these primitive savages once occupied better territory and have 
been compelled to take refuge in these unattractive places by the 
later hordes of conquering people, who now occupy the adjacent 
country. There does not seem to be much evidence for this 
assumption except in a very few cases. In the primitive hunting 
stage, human groups were very mobile and they seem to have 
wandered on and on as long as they found game and water. In a 
purely hunting and gathering stage, their semi-naked condition of 
alternate satiation and starvation may not have been anything out 
of the ordinary, and must have been the usual routine of life. They 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

could not use the fertile alluvial plains, and most probably never 
lived in them for long, and the question of their having been driven 
out from more favoured regions into their present habitat does 
not arise. These hunters seem to have lived where they are for an 
extremely long period and have adapted themselvs completely to 
their surrounding. The most amazing and complete of such 
adaptation is that of the Eskimos. Others like the Ona, Akka, 
Bushmen, etc., are also able to cope with their environment to a 
considerable degree and if any sad look has crept into their eyes, 
it is of a very late origin. The agricultural civilisations never 
endangered these savages as a group. They hardly penetrated into 
the jungle or desert region held by these people and it is only in 
the last few centuries that their habitat has been encroached upon. 

The history of the migrations of primitive people is not well 
worked out for all regions. The migrations lasted for thousands 
of years and went on by stages. In some cases the primitive people 
had reached a region where they lived on without much contact 
with others, as in the case of the Onas, Andamanese and Eskimos. 
In other cases there was contact and conflict going on for ages, as 
in the case of the Bushmen and the Pigmies. As long as both the 
conflicting communities are more or less on the same cultural plane, 
such a long drawn conflict brings about a zone of intermixture 
and a mutual region of possession where the one may live 
unmolested by the other. Where one community is superior in 
weapons and mobility over the other, the superior community may 
hold the other in perpetual bondage. Such is the case among 
many cattle-keeping pastoral tribes of North and East Africa and 
their agricultural neighbours. For example, the Masai hold the 
agricultural Swahili as their labourers in East Africa. The bondage 
is however light, the economic exploitation never too great. The 
cultural difference between such tribes is never too great and they 
live in and share the same region. 

When we consider the historical pattern of conflict as revealed 
by the records available for Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China 
and later records for Rome and Greece, some facts emerge clearly. 
The early settlers of these lands had apparently discovered agri- 
culture and husbandry and learnt to build permanent cities. In 
Egypt the different settlements, after a brief early struggle, were 
united into a mighty empire which lasted for thousands of years. 
Egypt had a homogenous population, a comparatively isolated 
position to work out its destiny and it presents a picture of a 
busy society engaged in all arts of peaceful living. Mesopotamia, 
however, had a far more turbulent history. The Sumerians, its 



IRAWATI KARVE 

earliest people, never emerged out of city-states and their con- 
tinuous destructive wars, and this legacy of regional supremacy 
and wars was handed down to the Babylonian and Assyrian 
empires. These empires were also at times very wide and power- 
ful, but there was no internal cohesion or unity and they were 
harassed by the mountain tribes of the neighbouring Persian high- 
lands from the very beginning until they fell finally to the armies 
of the Persians. The Cities of the Indus were also destroyed, by 
what - agencies is not known. India was invaded early by the 
northern pastoral people, the Vedic Aryans, who spread their 
language from the Punjab to the Krishna and from the Indus to 
Assam. A remarkable cultural synthesis was reached by the 
fusion of the northern Indo-Aryans, the eastern worshippers of 
Shiva and the southern Dravidian people. But India never achiev- 
ed political unity even for a brief period and was continuously 
exposed to the invasion of semi-nomadic people from the north. 
In China, apparently, the elements which have built the Chinese 
nation were more homogeneous and a great and enduring culture 
with one language has been evolved. However, this land was 
continuously disturbed by invasions from Mongolia, and Mongolia 
supplied China with a long line of kings and dynasties. The agri- 
cultural civilisations of India and China, Egypt, Sumer and 
Babylonia did not prove strong enough to resist successfully the 
lightning onslaughts of the northern nomads but their capacity to 
absorb them seemed almost limitless. These nomads were a hardy 
folk, had mastered the horse and had learnt the art of warfare, 
leadership and clan-solidarity in a perennial struggle for supremacy 
on the great Asian steppes. They could easily raid the city people 
and go away laden with booty but their cultural possessions were 
few and poor, and if they stayed, they had to learn the arts of 
agricultural life and in a few generations became indentified with 
the conquered. They took up the dress, the language and gods of 
the land in which they settled. Sometimes they succeeded in main- 
taining themselves as the ruling class and when the next wave of 
invasion came, were gladly accepted as national champions and 
heroes. In a wide-spread polytheism there is no urge to decry or 
disbelieve the gods of other people and innumerable instances show 
the homage paid to foreign gods by immigrants and conquerors. 
The Persian conquerors of Babylonia had different gods and 
mythologies from the Babylonians and yet they adopted the 
national Babylonian God, Marduk, and went through the formality 
of holding his hands to establish their sovereignty of the country. 
The Romans allowed the worship of Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of 

30 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

Fertility, the Kushan Kings who came to India from the north have 
left records on their sacrificial posts carved in stone about their 
homage to Hindu deities and a Greek invader has left a stone pillar 
at Bhilsa in which he styles himself as Mahabhagavata. There was 
exchange of goods, of knowledge and beliefs in an atmosphere, 
which was singularly free from prejudice and bigotry. Great 
kings, though personally inclined to one religious belief rather than 
another, prided themselves in protecting and endowing all sects and 
religions. Differences in appearance, dress and manners were 
always felt and noted. Everyone probably thought his way of life 
the best but the cultured of each land never thought the others 
less than human beings because they differed in their customs. 
This catholicity of outlook took away the edge of conflicts. People 
amassed armies and fought, the conqueror gathered booty and 
tribute, perhaps carried away some slaves, but did not interfere 
further with the lives of the ordinary man, and when they with- 
drew, life took up where it had been interrupted. There was no 
permanent bondage for the conquered people who, as history 
shows, always revolted if they were far enough from the capital 
and ceased to pay tribute. This was the situation not merely as 
regards foreign conquerors. In their own limited regions, kings 
found it difficult to levy Iribute from outlying provinces, and every 
new king had to take his armies and subdue the people anew to 
convince them of his prowess. From Italy to China, in the belt 
of hih ancient civilisation we meet the same pattern of culture- 
contact : sporadic conflicts and rapid cultural assimilation. This 
historical continuity was broken abruptly in Mesopotamia and 
E^vpt and southern Europe, but remained almost intact in India, 
China, Japan and the intervening countries. The first period of 
culture-contact and conflict in world history is the longest where 
the human race in primitive hunting groups spread over the earth 
and contended for territory. The period covered is at least 300,000 
years. The contact was not much in the nature of population pres- 
sure, nor was the conflict great. There was ample space for all and 
the nature of exploitation of the natural resources was such that 
the raw material wanted by all for their few needs was easily 
available. The second period lasted a few thousands years from 
about 3,000 B.C. to a little after the birth of Christ. This is the 
time when civilisations based on agriculture in fertile river valleys 
of the sub-tropical and temperate belt flourished from Egypt to 
China. To the north of this belt lay the storm centre, the ever- 
wandering turbulent nomads of the great Asian plains. These 
stormed again and again the cities and the fertile valleys of the 

31 



IRAWATI KARVE 

south but the damage done by them was never permanent except 
in the case of Rome. India and China absorbed these northern 
hordes one after another and Buddhism and later Hinduism created 
an amazing world of combined Indian, Chinese, Burmese and 
Japanese cultures, whose echoes are heard even to-day. Egypt fell 
to Rome, Mesopotamia, after the Persian conquest ? fell into anarchy 
and lapsed into oblivion until the rise of the Mohammedan religion. 
Outside this narrow belt of high civilisation was a land of either 
quite primitive peoples or of a people at a lower stage of material 
and cultural development, just getting acquainted with metals. 
Europe and the Asian highland represented the latter people and 
many of the arts of the ancient people slowly penetrated these 
regions. The European people as a whole with the exception of 
the Romans and Greeks never shared in the active cultural inter- 
course of the ancient world. The primitives were hardly touched 
by these civilisations. They not only kept to their jungle fastness 
but, defying all armies, defended their region stoutly. The 
Vindhyatavi or the forests of Vindhya figure in Buddhist, Jain and 
Brahmanic literature as the stronghold of the primitive people, 
whose might was feared by all merchants who travelled always 
with an armed guard and even then fared ill at the hands of the 
robbing Bhil bands. The myths, legends and the material culture 
of the peoples of the plains penetrated these regions very slowly, 
there was an exchange of gods, a borrowing of dress and imple- 
ments and even language by the primitive people. There are also 
stories of Kshatriyas and Brahmins marrying Nishada wives, and 
powerful kings seeking alliance of the primitive chieftains. So in 
the conflict which ensued, contact was limited and certainly not 
destructive. A very slow Hinduising of these tribes was going on 
over centuries. It was not a process in which there was all giving 
on one side and all borrowing on the other. Hinduism in its 
contact with primitive people gave much and received and made 
its own many elements of primitive thought. Certainly its attitude 
was never one of kindly condescension of a super-religion. 

The third period of contact of races and their conflicts begins 
with the rise of monotheistic religions and reaches its peak after 
the Industrial Revolution of western Europe. 1500 years before 
Christianity, an Egyptian king by name Ikhnaton had tried to 
promulgate monotheism, but the attempt failed and the old world 
continued in its philosophical pantheism and practical polytheism. 
The Old Testament gives the social and cultural background in 
which Christianity rose. Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria had long 
lost their glory. Only small city kingdoms and principalities 

33 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

governed by clan-chieftains remained at war with one another. 
Greece was also long past its glory and the imperial power of Rome 
was slowly losing its hold. Perhaps a sense of defeat and frustration 
pervaded the thinking minds of the day and a new religion was 
born which was destined to play a very fateful role in the destiny 
of humanity. The world as a battle-ground for the forces of light 
and darkness was an old idea formed in all ancient religions. The 
light was identified with the good and the darkness with the evil 
in a tacit way, but this identification became complete in the Chris- 
tian religion. A new idea was the imputing of original sin to all 
humanity and another that there was but one God, the father of 
Christ, whose worship alone may save humanity. The Deity was 
enthroned on high and man could hope for salvation only by an 
act of mercy from above. In the Old Testament prophet after 
prophet in a truly Freudian atmosphere of obsession and hatred 
flung curses against all the peoples around in a way which has no 
parellel elsewhere. In the New Testament, the tone is milder but 
the gist is the same. The few chosen of God had therefore the duty 
to save mankind from its terrible doom by making them disciples 
of this newly found deity. 

This religion had its birth among the most civilised nations of 
the world. It established itself at Rome and Constantinople and 
spread northwards. In the north of Europe it met a population 
which was almost primitive, which had not evolved an alphabet and 
which was divided into several powerful clans. Christianity took 
mankind from its terrible doom by making them disciples of this 
newly found deity. 

This, religion had its birth among the most civilised nations -of 
the world. .It established itself at Rome and Constantinople and 
spread northwards. In the north of Europe it met a population 
which was almost primitive, which had not evolved an alphabet 
and which was divided into several powerful clans. Christianity 
took a thousand years to win Europe. It worked as the unifying 
factor for Europe. The only cultural thread that binds Europe is 
Christianity because all cultural memories of pre-Christian days 
were lost until revived by recent researches. There is complete 
discontinuity between pre-Christian and Christian Europe and the 
breath of fresh wind which cleared the atmosphere of purely Chris- 
tian dogma came not from the past of North and mid-Europe but 
from the revival of classical learning at the end of the Middle Ages. 
The great poets who described the lives of the heroes in simple 
beautiful language, the philosophers who discussed without any in- 

33 



IRAWATI KARVE 

hibition all ethical and philosophical problems in an atmosphere 
completely free from dogma, the sculptors who wrought immortal 
beauty in stone, men who dared question God's acts and lastly the 
free intercourse of gods and men must have come as a shock of 
surprise to the European of the Middle East. Yet classicism came 
too late and never reached the masses of Europe, who remained 
ignorant and bigoted. Christianity had spread in that quarter of 
tht globe which happened to belong to white people. Christ was 
pictured as a white man with beard and the Virgin was a comely 
white maiden, either blonde or brunette. The Hindus had gods both 
black and white, but in Europe the religion became identified with 
one race and its aesthetic ideals. The chosen people thus came to 
belong not only to one religion but also to one race. The discovery 
of the steam engine, the steam ship and the long known use of 
gunpowder made these people infinitely superior to all others and 
they met the world with superior weapons of offence and without 
the classical understanding or sympathy for other human groups. 
It is the results of this encounter that we have to study. 

The spread of Buddhism, a few centuries around the Christian 
era cannot be compared to the spread of Christianity in Europe. 
Buddhism spread in countries which were already civilised, like 
China, and through China into neighbouring countries, and Burma 
and Ceylon. These countries were already sharing to a great extent 
in the cultural life of the civilised belt. Buddhism did not proclaim 
a new god through its prophet ; it was a way of life and a philo- 
sophy bordering on atheism. Whereas Christianity is purely senti- 
mental, Buddhism in its dialectical method of discourse on ethical 
and philosophical matters and on religious practices reminds one 
of the best intellectual Greek tradition. It did not deliberately kill 
the traditional customs and mythologies of the people and took 
various shapes according to the land where it was accepted. Bud- 
dhism was a legitimate culmination of one branch of Hindu philo- 
sophcial thought and was native to the land of its birth, while 
Christianity, taking its rise in the East established itself among 
European barbarians and was one of the contributory causes that 
made the contract between Europe and the rest of the world so 
painful, with such harmful consequences to the latter. 

The complete discontinuity with its own cultural past which 
characterises Europe also characterises Arabia and Egypt. A few 
centuries after the birth of Christ, another prophet in the same 
region announced another god as the only god and the new religion 
unlike Christianity spread rapidly in the land of its birth. The 

34 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IK ASIA 

Arabs had lived between two great civilisations, the Egyptian and 
the Babylonian, but had been completely untouched by the light of 
these. The great land routes of ancient trade passed through their 
country and it was their custom since the beginning of history to 
intercept and rob or hold to ransom richly laden caravans. Every 
now and then, in particularly bad years, they raided the surround- 
ing plains for food and other booty. In the period when Mohammed 
taught, Egypt, Assyria, Crete and Greece had vanished and Rome 
was but a memory. There was thus no influence which could soften 
its fanaticism and it spread with an amazing rapidity in Asia Minor, 
Persia, south-eastern Europe and the countries north of India and 
Africa. It is extremely simple in its tenets, is not shackled by his- 
torical accretions. It is not too ascetic in its precepts for this world 
and its promise for the next is so tangible, and so concrete that 
even the most primitive people can understand it. From its very 
inception Mohammedanism has spread among the black and the 
brown, the europoid, the negroid and the mongoloid races and is 
thus singularly free from race prejudice. Its ban on any attempt 
to delineate God and his creatures has not wedded it to any parti- 
cular aesthetic ideal of skin-colour, features or apparel. It spread 
without a highly organised and centralised institution like the Catho- 
lic Church. Having arisen among an intensely mobile and semi- 
nomadic people and having for its early followers the equally mobile 
steppe people of Asia, it burst on the fertile plains of India with 
the usual speed and fury which characterised these people. So had 
the Hyksos and Kassites and Huns burst on the peoples of the 
plain, but what were temporary robbing expedition in pre-Moham- 
medan times became religious wars, and the raider who put to 
sword the infidel got not only the booty of war in this world but 
glory in the next. Both Christianity and Mohammedanism had 
neither respect nor understanding for the cultures of other races. 
The world for the first time was dichotomised into the faithful and 
the infidel. The brotherhood of humanity became conditioned by 
the fatherhood of a particular God. Mohommedanism offers com- 
plete theoretical equality to all co-religionists but at the same time 
considers the rest of humanity as less than human and denies them 
even the primary right to live because to convert infidels is the first 
glory, and if they are not convertible to kill them is the second 
glory. Neither is this picture out of date ; even to-day to convert 
the whole world to Christianity is the dream of the Christian Church, 
to convert it to Mohammedanism is the dream of the Mohammedans. 
These two faiths have met and fought on the southern and eastern 

35 



IftAWATI KARVE 

borders of Europe and Mohammedanism had to retreat from most 
of Europe ; but what ground it lost there it made good elsewhere. 
Jt spread in Asia and Africa. It takes root in the soil and depends 
on native converts for supplying local priests and it has not been 
dependent on funds from Arabia to support its proseletysing out- 
side. When Christianity equipped with modern weapons and 
modern means of exploitation started on its world conquest it met 
Mohammedanism as a powerful rival in Africa and Asia. Moham- 
medanism did not spread in the wake of world-exploiting capita- 
lism and it did not unhinge the economic life of the people among 
whom it spread. It had no material or cultural advantage in 
knowledge and technology over the people it converted. Its con- 
tact with peoples was always in the nature of a violent impart. 
Among nomads, pastorals and primitive horticulturists and jungle 
folk it succeeded ; but among more civilised people, it called forth 
ultimately a bitter antagonism which gave rise to militant religious 
movements. These we shall have to study when we study India. 

The Industrial Revolution and the subsequent uninterrupted 
advance in science and technology placed western Europe in a 
position of advantage as against the rest of the world, which is un- 
paralleled in the history of the world. In Europe itself the transi- 
tion from agricultural economy to a machine economy was an 
extremely painful process. A machine is an insatiable thing. It 
produces more than many artisans could do by the labour of their 
hands. It pays only if things are produced in large quantities and 
it requires labour to help keep up its production at a maximum. 
When the first factories opened, the landless labourer was attracted 
by steady wages. The activity of the factories threw put of em- 
ployment many artisans and they were drawn in, the years of agri- 
cultural depression supplied still more. People came from different 
places and gathered together in wretched tenements in cities which 
grew overnight. In a village a man is brought up from his boyhood 
among a large kinship group and a still larger regional group, 
towards which his behaviour pattern is fixed by long tradition. His 
kinship group is his social security against misfortune and destitu- 
tion. His regional group is the cultural environment in which his 
personality develops. His companions are almost hereditary, 
handed down from generations of neighbouring families. There 
are seasons of play and work and he shares his leisure and work 
with people whom he knows intimately. In group recreations he 
knows every person of the group. But it is all changed when he 
comes to a factory as a labourer. He is thrown together with people 

36 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

he does not know ; after a few generations he loses the kinship 
group he left behind and at least in the early stages there was 
absolutely no provision for a rainy day or accident and disability. 
He worked from morning till evening in one confined area, in the 
din of machinery, among men, with whom his only tie was the 
machine which employed them. One can imagine the hunger for 
a holiday, air, sunshine and recreation of these masses of men. 
Amusement was also therefore of a type where innumerable people 
could participate. On a village green everybody was a potential 
player in the football or cricket team. Everybody could take part 
in boxing, everybody could throw darts. The watcher was also 
potentially a player. The play activity was a vital part of the rural 
life. But in mass-enjoyment thousands of men could not partici- 
pate activity in play and hence all modes of mass amusement are 
for the majority of people just passive enjoyment of watching 
others and vicariously sharing in the excitement of the active 
players. Whether it is boxing, or football or races, a mass of people 
are watching an infinitesimal number of active participants. The 
sharing in the game is vicarious. The illusion is carried still further 
in the Cinema. The same thing is watched by thousands and 
emotions are communicated from one to the other very quickly. It 
is an atmosphere where intellectual processes are at their lowest 
and the mind is receptive to every suggestion. This particular 
feature of machine-economy, which makes for collecting human 
beings in one place has been fully exploited by all politicians, 
boosters for commercial goods and religious preachers. Attitudes 
of racial antipathy or sympathy are fostered through this medium 
in a very subtle and efficient way. The wartime propaganda is 
crude but those on whose ears it falls are also crude and receptive. 
The peacetime propaganda, conscious or unconscious, goes on for 
a longer period and with far more substlety. Who does not know 
the cruel, crafty, unemotional oriental of the films and the fiction 
of Europe ? The hero is always a European, the suffering kid- 
napped heroine is always a European girl and the cruel villain is 
either an opium-eating Chinese, or a lascivious Indian Maharaja or 
the African Negro. Apart from the effects this has on non-Euro- 
peans, it has repercussions on the Europeans themselves. 

The factory life which had torn the European from his rural 
moorings into a world of crowded tenements, long hours, attenuated 
family life and loss of all social security, was a life of frustration. 
Mass amusement, mass education and mass contact do not satisfy 
or make for a contended personality. It standardises peoples' dress, 

37 



IRA W ATI KARVE 

food and thoughts but the personal frustrations bring out many 
who seek adventure, who seek to individualise themselves from 
the amorphous social background. These are the empire-builders, 
the insatiable tourists and the priests. These people, with a fanati- 
cal religion, a carefully fostered conception of race-superiority and 
with the possession of mechanised transport and long-range 
weapons met other races of the world. The effects of this contact 
are too well-known to need a lengthy description. 

In olden times long caravans and cargo-ships took months to 
reach their destination. As everything was done by human hands 
the rate of production even with the help of slave labour was 
necessarily slow and the demand for raw materials was restricted. 
The machine accelerated the process of production and consumed 
raw material at a tremendous rate. As goods were produced, they 
could reach the commonest man and demand kept pace with pro- 
duction. At the same time European sailors were discovering 
distant lands rich in vegetable fats, fibres and corn. The economic 
possibilities of these lands for colonisation, for supply of raw 
material to the evergrowing demand of the home factories and for 
supply of unskilled labour were instantaneously apparent to the 
discoverers. Trading companies got possession of huge territories 
in a matter of a few days or hours from the native chiefs in ex- 
change for paltry sums or by exterminating the natives the latter 
process is called the opening up of new territory by pioneers, whose 
valorous fights with the native populations have formed the theme 
of many a film. In the land thus opened up, enthusiastic mission- 
aries, with no better knowledge than their own dogma, set up 
missions to convert the native to whatever brand of Christianity 
they belonged to. The Industrial Revolution had brought about a 
collapse of the old social order and the creation of a new one in 
Europe. The process, though painful, was vaguely understood by 
the participants, and the factory labourers, by uniting together, are 
creating more acceptable conditions for themselves in a world, 
where the machine and the labourer have become the main features 
of life. But the native African, or Australian who was made to 
produce goods for a distant machine was thrown into a new economy 
which he could not comprehend at all. His labour, which supplied 
his own wants, was now employed for producing goods, the value 
of which fluctuated according to world trade, and was thus suddenly 
drawn into cycle of depression and prosperity. When he was found 
reluctant to work, not caring for the paltry wages and preferring 
to go naked, a tax was imposed on him for the right to live in his 

38 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

own land. To pay this tax he had to seek employment. It has been 
shown by Lord Hailey, that his employment by whites just enables 
him to pay the tax and feed himself when working and that he has 
to go back to his preserve to work in his fields to supply his family 
with scanty food throughout the year. Chinese, Negroes and 
Indians were exported as indentured labourers to America, Trindad, 
the Malaya Peninsula and Africa. Torn from their own homes, 
from their cultural environment, without any rights in the land 
whose wealth they augment, they have become a world proletariat 
without home, without culture and without any future hope of 
bettering their material prospects. 

The policy of ruthless extermination was soon given up for a 
more subtle economic exploitation. It was found out that the 
European could not live and work in the tropics, and the tropics 
could be exploited only through the original inhabitants under 
European supervision. The private companies were very soon 
abolished and their place taken by the regular government of the 
people, a step which was certainly progressive. A private company 
owed no duties to the people and the land it exploited. It used up 
the land and forest produce without any long-term policy, only 
with an eye to immediate gains. During famines it left the people 
to starve and if the policy had been pursued further, it might have 
shown diminishing returns. The governments, though they always 
placed the interest of the white manufacturer before the well-being 
of the native population, were yet responsible for a minimum of 
prelection to the natives sometimes the advances at home reflected 
themselves in native administration. The clergy who taught the 
native to read and to write also made him think and he became 
conscious of his human equality with the Europeans. Thus the 
Home government represented by the Colonial Office, the Euro- 
pean administration on the spot and the clergy on the one hand 
and the nationally awakened native on the other are today engaged 
in culture-conflict where the native finds slight support now and 
then from a very weak Colonial Office and the still weaker 
clergyman. 

The native administration in Canada and United States at the 
present date shows some concern for the good of the American 
Indians and the policy followed is one of help to the natives to solve 
their cultural and economic problems in their own way, the way 
being left open to them for a complete amalgamation with the 
American and Canadian life. They are allowed to keep up their 
group life, group leadership is encouraged and the Government 

39 



IRAWATI KARVE 

meets them as a group. But this policy has been only recently 
followed ; before that there was a policy of atomising the American 
Indians. Communal ownership in land was discouraged, they were 
encouraged to sell land at attractive prices, or in some states, people 
married Indian maidens to get possession of land. The landless 
Indian very soon became part of the American proletariat. But this 
process has fortunately been stopped and the right of the Indians 
to order the life of their group has been recognised. As has been 
found out by anthropologists, a man torn from the group to which 
he naturally belongs is a lost soul without any possibility of evolv- 
ing an integrated personality. The same relation of the individual 
and his group has been vividly described for the sophisticated 
American by Sinclair Lewis in his well known novel Babbit. 

The only nations who could withstand the impact of Europeans 
to a certain extent are the Mohammedan peoples of Egypt and 
Asia Minor, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Burmese and the 
Indians. The first already possessed a fanatical creed which had 
crossed sword with Christianity and come out not too badly. Except 
for its retreat from Spain Mohammedanism held its original con- 
quests. The missionaries did not feel it their duty to go to Egypt 
and the lands of the Middle East in their hundreds and apparently 
no women got the call to save the souls of these men. The com- 
mercial and political and strategical importance of these lands had 
parcelled it into spheres of English, French, and Russian influence. 
The rivalries of the European nations have given them opportuni- 
ties to a kind of semi-independence and culturally they have 
maintained their age-old customs almost intact. 

China and India have withstood the onslaught because of their 
immense populations and the weight of an unbroken literary 
tradition of over thirty centuries, For a people with developed 
languages, literature and alphabet it is easier to maintain historical 
traditions than for people without an alphabet. Among the latter 
the only means of transmitting the culture from one generation to 
another is through close contact of different generations, a well 
regulated group life and instruction by word and precept. When 
the primitive group life is undermined, the elders discredited and 
the children brought up in missionary schools, it takes but a 
generation or two to forget the past. That is what has happened 
to innumerable peoples of the South Seas. These lived in small 
islands, were always comparatively few in number and succumbed 
rapidly in spite of a very complicated social organisation and 
advanced material culture as the case of the Maoris shows, 

40 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

Buddhist Burma, with its wide-spread literacy has also escaped 
cultural annihilation. Japan was the one nation which withstood 
European impact best, took up the European culture and built up 
a strong Asian power which has been, however, crushed in the 
most recent phase of fight between the East and the West. It would 
have been completely annihilated but it is needed by America as 
a check to Russia and it may therefore be allowed not only to live 
but to prosper once more. 

The situation in Japan is paralleled by that in China where 
America and Russia are conducting a fight in foreign territory and 
measuring each other's strength. In Burma and India the inter- 
ference of a second foreign power besides the English is not ye I 
visible because unlike Japan and China both India and Burma 
were held firmly as dependencies by the British. It seems that 
the British are willing to grant India a certain amount of freedom 
and we may be tolerably sure that an independent national life can 
be built up by us if we understand the external and internal con- 
flicts and steer a clear conscious course of national well-being. 

With the end of the last war the third period of world conflicts 
has ended and we are entering on a new phase of the conflict of 
peoples. The machine development and the harnessing of natural 
power have gone on uninterrupted and have reached amazing 
heights. Yet there is no visible limit for further scientific research 
and release of energy for constructive or destructive purposes. 
Time and space have shrunk further and long-range weapons of 
destruction make every part of the earth vulnerable from any single 
point. The last war however has demonstrated how a mechanical 
army needs a tremendous number of semi-skilled soldiers, hc-w 
useful it is to have as allies well populated countries which can 
manufacture all types of goods and how a subject nation, not fully 
equipped, is more a source of anxiety and danger than an asset. 
The conflict of nations has the same economic motive but is fought 
on an ideal plain. It is almost a religious fight without quarter for 
the infidel. Capitalism long established and hoary in practice with 
a historical growth of institutions is without any compact set of 
tenents or modes of attack. Communism has all the fervour and 
singleness of purpose of a new found religion and it has the same 
sacred mission to spread its message to all the exploited peoples 
of the earth. The conquest of peoples, countries and their 
resources shall not be through armies but through missionary 
propaganda and while capitalism has all the world's resources 
behind it, it is ponderous and full of evils which have grown with 

41 



tRAWATI KARVE 

its age and offers a thousand targets for communistic criticism. 
This fight is being fought with deadly earnest in China, has already 
flared up in Burma and is but temporarily quiet in India. We have 
to take it into consideration when we talk about new culture- 
conflicts and new orientations in India and Asia. 

China likes to count besides the region inside the famous 
Chinese wall a vast region outside this wall as its own as outlying 
provinces of China. This outer region comprises Tibet, Chinese 
Turkestan with its predominantly Mohammedan population, Outer 
Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria, all three inhabited by 
pastoral Mongol clans, whose chieftains claim relationship with 
Chenghis Khan. China's claim has never been submitted to by 
these provinces. Outer Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria 
have never been conquered by China. The Mongols from the 
beginning of Chinese history have time and again swept over the 
fertile plains of China and established dynasties and principalities. 
When the conquering Mongol tribes settled down in China and 
absorbed Chinese civilisation, they feared the depredations of their 
northern brethren and one such king built the great Chinese wall 
which happens to be the first of the many futile walls like the 
famous Roman wall and the Maginot lines. The Chinese wall is 
not only a political but also a cultural boundary. The Chinese are 
agriculturists while the Mongols are pastorals. The Manchu which 
was the last dynasty of China belonged to the Mongol groups and 
the tie between China and Mongolia was through these kings who 
had not so much subjugated the whole of Mongolia as were 
acknowledged as joint kings by the Mongols. With their fall the 
link between China and Mongolia was virtually broken. None of 
the two Mongolias was either colonised or firmly governed by the 
Chinese Government. Outer Mongolia can no longer be counted 
as a Chinese province. China may make an ally of her but the 
chances seem rather remote to-day. Inner Mongolia also may be 
counted as lost. At the beginning of this century China started 
intensive colonisation of Manchuria. The historical process of 
Mongol infiltration was reversed. The great Wall is not only a 
political barricade but also a cultural boundary, the Chinese side 
inhabited by agricultural people and the Mongolian side by pastoral 
people. When the Chinese moved northwards into Manchuria they 
started agriculture and ploughed up the pastures of the Mongolian 
herds with the result that as the Chinese advanced the Mongols 
retreated northwards and westwards into Manchuria. Many 
representations to the Central Chinese Government fell on deaf ears 

42 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

and when Japan took advantage of the situation the Chinese 
Government realised too late the mistake they had made in 
alienating the Mongols. Statistics show these lands as vast areas 
inhabited by a comparatively few people. There are possibilities 
for mining and agriculture and they look like natural outlets to 
China's overflowing millions. But the interests of an intensely 
agricultural community are always at variance with a pastoral 
people. Intensive agriculture can support a far greater number 
of people than pastoral economy. Herds of cattle and sheep require 
large land areas as pastures as the pastures must be used by rota- 
tion if they are to serve the community for a long time. As soon 
as land is put under a plough it is lost for pastures and the pastoral 
people are thus progressively dispossessed of their land. The first 
thing that Japan did was to demarcate clearly the provinces held 
by Chinese farmers in the south of Manchuria from the land still 
in possession of the Mongols and declared that no further inroads 
by agricultural people would be allowed into the latter. In setting 
up a king who was related to the Manchus to whom Mongols had 
owed an allegiance, the Japanese behaved in a statesmanlike 
manner. The king is deposed but it is doubtful if China can deem 
the Mongols as its nationals in future. Chinese Turkestan and 
Tibet have also a permanent quarrel with the Central Government 
and the ultimate shape of China will depend on whether it gives 
due recognition to the rights and traditions of these border people 
or whether it tries to suppress them with the aid of foreign arms. 

This problem of culture-conflict or racial conflict faces to-day 
almost all the Asian nations. Once the pressure of the outside 
power is removed these conflicts are bound to flare up in intensity 
and the strength of the newly-won nationhood will depend on how 
far the internal conflicts are solved with wisdom and justice. 

In its long history India was never united under a single 
political power before the advent of the British. The great rulers 
who had established empires from Asoka to Akbar or Aurangzeb, 
always held but a part of India under their sway with a fringe 
of turbulent semi-independent provinces continually revolting and 
continually being chastised. The unity of India has always been 
a cultural unity based on an uninterrupted literary and religious 
tradition of thousands of years. The learned Brahmin, to whatever 
region he belonged, read the Vedas, Brahmanas, Smritis a 
literature which started about 4,000 years ago and which is being 
commented upon by generations of learned men from Patanjal in 
the second century upto Sayana in the fifteenth century, 

43 



IRAWATI KARVE 

Whether it was drama, or poetry or grammar or politics or logics 
or philosophy, whatever of excellence or mediocrity was created 
upto the threshold of this century owed its form and matter to 
classical or Vedic literature. This cultural continuity can be 
compared only with China. Europe, owing to the advent of 
Christianity, was dissociated with its own past and properly speak- 
ing its literary tradition begins with Christianity. The cultural 
unity of India is thus deeper, because much of what makes the 
culture has become folkways deeply ingrained into the lives of all 
the strata of society. Hinduism is not a religion as understood by 
the Westerners. It has no church, it has almost no dogma, it is a 
creation of historical growth and culture-contacts of centuries. It 
comprises description of gods, devotional literature, philosophical 
treatises. From the worship of a thousand spirits it goes to a 
pantheistic ideal, where the individual identifies himself with the 
ultimate reality. The pantheistic principle is not something 
reserved for the highly educated elite but has spread into the 
masses, and the farmer-saints of the Maratha country will be seen 
expounding the doctrine of the identity of the individual and the 
all-pervading reality in terms as logical and succinct as those used 
by the great Shankar in his commentary. This identity of self 
with God has enabled the Hindu to be on very friendly terms with 
all the other gods. He can joke at their queer appearance, he can 
comment on the irascible temper of Shiva, or the undisturbed 
equanimity of Vishnu. When disgusted with the inequalities of 
the world a modern poet calls on Shiva to destroy it in a last dance 
of destruction. In this atmosphere of intellectual freedom coupled 
with certain ritualistic stiffness, it was easy for the Indian mind 
to take eagerly to Western literature and especially Western 
Science. Nothing which Western Science taught went against his 
religion. It is this which has baffled Western scholars. Even such 
an astute philosopher as Hobhouse, comments on the fact that an 
Indian fully versed in Western literature and taking up Western 
dress, still worships at home his stones representing different gods. 
What he thinks as the height of crudity, is nothing but inherent 
in an intensly sophisticated polytheistic society. Each individual 
at different stages of life will give a different interpretation of 
Hinduism and each interpretation will be true. This individualisa- 
tion of the religion and cultural tradition, and the wide choice of 
spiritual alternatives has made Hinduism at once vulnerable and 
unconquerable. In the intense political and cultural struggle with 
Mohammedanism this feature and the vastness of the country 
combined to enable Hindu India almost to re-conquer lost territory 

44 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

politically and culturally from the rulers of Delhi. The superior 
technical equipment of the Western powers and the complete lack 
ot political umiication led to the political downfall of India and it 
has remained as a firmly held dependency for almost two 
centuries. 

Mohammedanism had little to offer as regards arts of life or 
literature when it came in contact with India. It offered its religion 
at the point of the sword but soon realised that the method of 
conversion raised deep-rooted antagonisms and jeopardised the 
political ascendency and had to modify it. Its influence on the 
life and thought of the South has been very small, but it has 
affected the North to a considerable degree. The dress, the speech, 
the food and the mode and habits of eating of many a Northern 
community are to a great extent borrowed from the Mohammedans. 
Even the religious revivals can be understood only as a product of 
culture contact. Sikhism in its giving up of idol worship, has 
compromised with the tenents of Mohammed. So have all religious 
revivalistic sects in Northern India like the Arya Samaj, Brahmo- 
Samaj, Radha-Swami Cult and a host of others, though some of 
these later sects are also an incorporation of some Christian tenets. 
The Northern system of Purdha for women is entirely absent in 
the South and seems to be also a direct result of Mohammedan 
contact, though it seems that it may have originated among the 
Hindus of the North before the Mohammedan advent into India ; 
however it reached its intensity during the Mohammedan rule. 

The Mohammedans have been in India for about a thousand 
years. They created the first breach in the cultural unity of India. 
Though they have become an indigenous element, their religious 
centre is outside India and their co-religionists have spread all over 
the world. The growing strength of Mohammedan power in Asia 
Minor is looked upon as personal acquisition of power by Indian 
Mohammedans. As Asia Minor is to-day a field of contention 
between England, America and Russia, the Mohammedan powers 
are in a good bargaining position. The advantages of this peculiar 
international position are also reaped by the Indian Muslims. This 
consciousness of solidarity with outside Muslims, the peculiar 
regional distribution which makes it possible for the extreme north 
and northwest to form a majority province, and religious fanaticism 
which sets at nought all human values arising out of a thousand 
years of association, make it almost impossible to arrive at cultural 
compromise with this element in the Indian population. They 
neither respect nor understand the religious, ethical or aesthetic 
creations of other people. The beautiful temples which it had taken 

45 



IRAWATI KABVE 

centuries to build they have defaced whereever they could not 
raze them to the ground. They have left terror and destruction 
in their wake in historical times. Classical Sanskrit literature has 
remained a closed book to them. There was a time when in some 
linguistic areas, for example Bengal, the Muslims kept to their 
dress, language and customs of pre-conversion days and it seemed 
as if the Bengal culture of future would be a common creation of 
its Muslim and Hindu inhabitants. But the process has been cut 
short by recent orientation in Muslim policy in India which wants 
to stress its differences from the other communities rather than 
the adjustments which have arisen out of a common life in the 
same land. This racial conflict has got to be solved not by cultural 
compromises or by paying too big a price for presenting a united 
front to the World. The situation must be solved on some general 
principles of ethics, justice and humanity. In the present world 
a minority possesses a bargaining power quite disproportionate to 
its numbers and giving in as a matter of expediency, instead of 
leading to a permanent solution, merely makes one party ask for 
more. Under the spacious name of the unity of India we must 
not forget the historical facts or the present situation. India was 
politically one only as a slave nation under a foreign power during 
its long history of four thousand years. If it can be united as a 
strong nation, the unity is worth attaining ; but if it is merely a 
nominal unity in which none of the two partners can trust the 
other, it is better to acknowledge, the fact and try to fix cultural 
boundaries on an equitable basis. If the Muslims cannot brook 
the majority of Hindus to swamp them, neither can the Hindu 
minorities in Muslim regions. If we accept the principle of cultural 
autonomy it is best to carry it to its logical conclusion as Russia 
has done for the cultural regions within the frame- work of the 
USSR. And for this a complete re-orientation and reformation of 
the present provinces is necessary. Cultural conflicts cannot be 
solved on a purely political basis of day-to-day compromise or 
balance of power between different parties. It must be faced and 
solved on certain principles which, if once accepted, must be carried 
to their logical conclusion. To deny cultural difference, to impute 
racial conflict solely to the interference of a third party is 
deliberately to refuse to face facts and if we start the foundations 
of our independence on lack of courage and fear of disintegration 
we cannot hope for a strong contented national life. 

The existence of cultural linguistic regions brings us to an 
aspect of Indian geography and history which is rife with possibili- 

46 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA. 

ties of cultural conflict inspite of a general cultural synthesis. India 
possesses many separate linguistic regions, where vast populations 
speak allied but distinct languages. The Dravidiaii region has 
languages which are not allied linguistically with the languages 
of the North, though it is thoroughly imbued with the Vedic- 
Brahmanic religion and is distinguished by scholarship in and love 
for the Sanskrit language. Every one of these regions has a 
literary tradition of almost a thousand years and Modern Indian 
languages had already much written literature to their credit before 
Chaucer wrote in England. They had also a strong sense of unity 
with those who spoke their language, and preferred it to other 
regions. We have the instance of the Mahanubhav spiritual head, 
who advised his deciples to go only as far as the Marathi language 
endured. We have the Vishva-Darshan Champu in Sanskrit which 
describes the people of India with their different languages, speech 
habits and marriage and other customs. Ramdas advises for a 
unity of the Marathas and Ramchandra Amatya, the chief minister 
of Shivaji has left behind a conception of Maharashtra which in the 
beauty of its diction and the loitiness ot its ideal is counted among 
the finest legacies of Marathi literature. These linguistic regions 
had their dynasties and sometimes when a part of a linguistic 
region was under a foreign ruler it was made an excuse tor war. 
Each linguistic province has an ancient name, which without too 
much modification, can. be applied to it even to-day. When the 
British conquered India they went on making administrative units 
called provinces of land, as it was conquered or otherwise acquired, 
without any regard to the cultural regions. In the North the pro- 
vinces have some resemblance to cultural unities but in the South 
the sins unconsciously committed have been very grave. The 
Bombay Presidency was made up of a narrow strip, which com- 
prised from north to south Sindh, Gujrat, Marathi districts and 
Kannada districts. Fortunately Sind has been separated and made 
into a province but the other three remain together eternally 
quarrelling and eternally jealous one of the other. If these cultural 
regions were so small that they had to be united to make one 
economic and political unit, one could bear it as a matter of neces- 
sity but actually great portions of Gujrat, Maratha Country and 
Karnatak lie outside of Bombay Presidency and each united with 
its own people would make a large and homogeneous province. 
Some portions of these provinces are under the States and people 
have to suffer great injustice and hardships as they are not allowed 
to study in their own language or develop its literature. Every 
department of cultural and political life is poisoned by these 

47 



IRAWATI KARVE 

rivalries and parties and rival groups are formed on the principle 
of enemity to the neighbour and friendship with the neighbour's 
neighbour. Every appointment is jealously watched as to what 
region it is awarded and motives and nepotism are imputed where 
there may be none in existence. Provincial rivalries are bound to 
be reflected in Federal appointments, but their unnecessary and 
harmful continuance in the conglomerate provinces is an evil 
which must be remedied at once. In federating India there are two 
alternatives as regards the linguistic regions. One following the 
US policy, a complete negation of provincial languages and culture 
and a policy of amalgamating all into one linguistic whole. The 
other is of laying down certain principles of political ideal for all 
federating states and recognising them as cultural entities fully 
entitled to shape their cultural life within the prescribed political 
frame. Indian linguistic regions can have no analogy with the 
USA states. The humanity which poured into America and to 
which America allows entrance is uprooted from its historical and 
cultural context and from its kingship group. It generally came as 
small isolated groups persecuted on religious grounds, or to seek 
better economic opportunities. The language of the early colonisers 
and the majority group happened to be English. The USA was 
governed by English governors until its independence and so 
English became also the language of the new nation. But recent 
studies have revealed the obstinacy with which certain groups hold 
to their old tradition and language. The old Amish is an out- 
standing example of one such community. The German popula- 
tion is large and prosperous enough to have its own schools and 
newspapers and the Dutch, the Norwegians, the Italian and other 
groups keep to their language besides learning the official language 
of the land. The Indian linguistic regions are really nations with 
deep roots in the soil, and pride in regional cultures or achieve- 
ments must not be dubbed as narrow provincialism. A Gujrati 
taking pride in the achievements of Gujrat or a Maratha priding in 
the Maratha history cannot be compared with the rival spirit 
exhibited say by a Berliner and a Munchener or a Yorkshireman 
and an inhabitant of Kent. The regional unit is large enough and 
old enough to be called a nation. Neither is this pride at variance 
with the loyalty due to the newly found unity of all India. For 
the majority of people in a region, the region shall provide a 
sufficient and satisfying field for cultural activity with the federal 
state as the larger background. The language of the region is 
entirely enough for the majority of people while Hindi, the federal 
language can be studied with enthusiasm by people who wish to 

48 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

have inter-provincial contact or enter the Federal services. One 
of the most urgent problems of India is to enhance literacy and 
it can be better tackled through regional languages than by making 
Hindi compulsory to all people in India. There is not even any 
unanimity about the form of Hindi which is to be taught. For 
the sake of propaganda it is assumed that all the language groups 
whose mother-language is derived from Sanskrit can be easily 
understood. The contention is absolutely right with reference to 
Hindi. A well educated Marathi or a Gujrati person, well versed 
in his own language can read and understand even Tulsidas ; 
Ramayan but for these same people it is not possible to understand 
beyond a few words here and there the kind of language which 
goes under the name of Hindustani. In the South the Hindustani 
tongue is not understood at all as both the Urdu and Hindi 
elements are foreign to the people there. When a child begins to 
imbibe the culture of its land through the written word, no effort 
is needed to grasp the meaning of the word as it is already learnt 
in daily speech. New words are learnt in the context of the old 
and the joy in reading increases. This natural process is retarded 
when a child has compulsorily to learn a foreign language. By 
the time it is big enough to read quite advanced things, the foreign 
language keeps him at the level of nursery tales owing to the diffi- 
culties of vocabulary. The whole education is thus retarded. This 
is the case of city-bred children who are otherwise precocious. 
There would be much greater difficulties in the case of the rural 
population. There is thus a necessity to realise the entity of the 
regions and restore them to unified provinces with their own 
languages and culture within the larger political, unity of India. 
A recognition of this fact will lead to harmonious and culturally 
homogeneous units ready to co-operate to build up the glory of the 
state, a refusal to recognise this for the sake of political expediency 
will lead to a prolonged cultural conflict, small-mindedness and 
bickering. 

There is yet another conflict within the Hindu society of which 
cognisance must be taken. The Hindu society is a growth of a 
very long historical process. It has never been a completely homo- 
geneous society. It has allowed racial and cultural elements to 
live side by side until they fuse in the ripeness of time. But this 
process of fusion has stopped almost completely for over fifteen 
hundred years. The days when Hindu society could completely 
amalgamate foreigners like the Ionian Greeks. Bactrians and Huns 
is long past. The various racial and folk elements are allowed to 
live together as separate and almost autonomous units. The status 

49 



IRAWATI KABVE 

of these units has been fixed and unchangeable. The status of a 
man, the work he shall do, the persons he may marry are all fixed 
by the accident of birth and does not depend at all on his personal 
aptitude or ability. These are the castes and sub-castes of India, 
People belonging to different castes live in the same village, may 
unite in economic pursuits but live worlds apart in complete social 
isolation. Each has its caste council, which tries people for petty 
offences, levies marriage fees, arranges for cremations and caste 
dinners. The question of racial conflict would not arise at all if 
people accepted the status of their caste and if uncomfortable doc- 
trines like human equality in this world did not come along with 
democratic forms of Government. There is a complete heirarchy 
of castes from the Brahmins to the untouchables. The latter are 
people who have barely the right to live but they must not approach 
too near a man of a higher caste and their very touch is pollution, 
There have been indigenous attempts at removing the evil of the 
caste system but all the pre-British attempts proved futile except 
as regards a few higher castes. The British rule did not set out 
to destroy the caste system, on the other hand through certain 
new and invidious distinctions like the martial and non-martial 
races it created some new non-existent castes. The British, how- 
ever, brought certain new things with them. For the first time the 
same opportunity was offered to every man to study in the same 
institution if he could afford to pay for it. The Railway made no 
distinction among people who travelled except on the basis of the 
money paid. The same law applied to all without any reserva- 
tions. The untouchables were the first to agree to serve as ser- 
vants in European households. They were the first to get con- 
verted to Christianity and the realisation of the change in their 
status must have come as God's revelation to thousands of these 
people. With the spread of education they learnt the lesson of 
uniting and the bargaining power which a united minority pos- 
sesses in a democratic constitution where they possessed a vote 
for the first time. The national struggle for freedom soon brought 
the realisation in the minds of leaders that the invidious injustices 
of the caste system must vanish before Hindus can fight as a united 
people against a foreign power. Some attempts, at the removal, 
of caste distinctions and especially of untouchability were genuine 
while others were due to the political expediency. At first the 
untouchables accepted as leaders and almost as saviours those 
persons of higher rank who advocated their equality with others, 
who dined with them and who allowed them entrance to their 

50 



RACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

houses. This leadership, however, in the natural course passed 
to people born as untouchables and who had got their education 
under great difficulties. Just as a white missionary can never be 
the leader of the Negroes or Indians or just as a capitalist can 
never be a labour-leader, so also the leadership of persons of other 
castes was never felt as genuine leadership by the untouchables. 
Men born in the same lowly position as they, men who had felt 
in a thousand ways in their daily intercourse with others the con- 
tempt of other castes and had risen above all these social handicaps 
by their ability are the natural leaders of these groups. The whole 
caste feels proud in the achievement of such individuals and loyally 
follows them as a group. If Hindus wish genuinely to bring up 
the untouchables to the ideal of social equality they must realise 
the above fact and give due respect and consideration to these 
natural leaders. Unfortunately however, the caste Hindus have 
followed another path. They have chosen as leaders and repre- 
sentatives not those who have the support and confidence of the 
majority of their group but those who are acceptable to the caste 
Hindus. Such people in order to be acceptable must please the 
caste Hindus, rather than their own people. These must show 
sweet reasonableness in their demands, only a mild disapproval 
of Hindu practices and accept the leadership of the caste Hindus. 
Those dissatisfied with this arrangement have sought alliance with 
other minorities like the Muslim League. It is a great pity that 
this whole question should not have been considered from the point 
of view of righting the aweful wrong and meeting the untouchables 
as a group and accepting as their mouthpiece people who enjoy 
their confidence. Instead of that they are dragged into the vortex 
of party politics where their mediocre men alone can come forward 
as stooges of the contending parties and where their real leaders 
have to take a back-place. The first nationalist government has 
worked more as a party-government rather than as a government 
anxious to build up a nation of all social elements working in 
harmony. The castes who are traditionally given a lower status 
need a special treatment not only as regards educational and other 
facilities but also as a genuine whole-hearted recognition of them 
as groups and acceptance of their leaders on terms of complete 
equality. 

Another and similar aspect of Hindu Society which has given 
rise to a great deal of literature in recent times is the position of 
the primitive peoples in the future national government of India. 
The primitive people do not form a problem which is different in 

51 



IRAWATI KARVE 

kind from the economic and educational problem of the rest of 
illiterate India. Almost nowhere except perhaps in the distant 
Assam hills have the primitives remained untouched from the 
stream of civilised life going around them. For their daily needs 
they are dependent on the produce of the fanner and exchange 
the goods of the forest for it. They have been aptly termed as 
dependent hunters by Ginsberg. It may not be possible for them 
to live entirely on hunting if their association with the agricultural 
people was completely broken. Their dress, their language and 
their social institutions including kinship usages are not different 
from those of the surrounding population. I especially stress this 
fact, as almost everyone of their usage can be shown in existence 
to-day among the agricultural castes in the Maratha and Telugu 
country. They have borrowed much from the surrounding popu- 
lation including their language, myth and legend. This however 
does not mean that they should not receive greater care and pro- 
tection from the Government. Their ignorance has been abused 
and exploited by money lenders and rich farmers but one must 
remember history. Before the advent of the British power they 
were strong in jungle remotness. They were daring robbers 
and no Government was strong enough to put a stop to 
their onslaughts on the low-land farmers. They had their 
dynasties and kingdoms, they fought bravely and copied the arts 
and crafts of the Hindu kingdoms as the remains of Gond kingdoms 
show. Their continued exploitation commenced after the firm 
establishment of the British rule. The money lender entered their 
fastness secure in the protection of the British police which avenged 
every murder. In fact one of the first things that the British rule 
did was to suppress the robber bands of Bhils, Gonds, Kolis and 
Hatkar Dhangars in the Vindhya, Aravali, Satpura and Sahyadri 
ranges. The exploiter was secure from the vengeance of the 
people, To the money-lender was added the excise officer and 
traders in spirits and the forest ranger with his forest-guards. It 
became easy for the farmers to expand the limits of his cultivation 
and gradually make incursions into the forest lands but latterly 
these have been stopped by the Government. To the misery of 
semi-starvation was added drunkenness. The Government have 
done nothing against the latter. During the last war Bhils, Karus, 
and other forest tribes earned very good money at the timber 
depots but the larger portion was spent in drink orgies at Govern- 
ment toddy and liquor shops. We have no right to preserve these 
people as museum pieces for the sophisticated urban people tired 

53 



ftACIAL PROBLEMS IN ASIA 

monetarily of the civilisation of the city. Neither have we the 
right to exhibit their half-naked photographs in pristine simplicity 
for eyes grown tired with the sophisticated beauties of the great 
cities. A constructive policy which will give them enough employ- 
ment, sufficient food and shelter, efficient hygienic service and ade- 
quate education are their crying needs as are also those of the 
illiterate mass of the Indian population. These primitive people 
should be treated as groups, group leadership should be fostered 
and one day they will take their place as citizens of India on terms 
of absolute equality with the rest. 

That in short is the picture of existent and possible racial con- 
flicts within India. We have now to consider the relations of Asian 
nations with one another. Representatives of Asian nations have 
met before in ancient times in learned assemblies to discuss reli- 
gious dogma; but I believe it is for the first time that Asian nations 
conscious of their nationhood have come together. If the bond 
that brings them together is the common yoke of western powers 
it is an impermanent principle for mutual co-operation. There 
must be some deeper identity of interests and purposes and 
certainly there must be a lack of racial conflicts. China, Japan, 
India and Burma, Java and Ceylon have many cultural similarities 
and share to a large extent in the historical continuity of the civili- 
sations of the past. It is hoped that in the new era of rising 
nationalism they will keep the catholicity and tolerance of the 
ancient world. All Asian nations have taken to party politics and 
are just now engaged in a war of extermination with their own 
people who differ from the creed professed by the party in power. 
We have all borrowed the ideas of dictatorship, party discipline 
and party propaganda and are ruling with the help of laws which 
would be hailed as intolerable under a foreign power. This 
cannot be the cultural ideal of a newly freed people and we hope 
that this is an assembly representing the peoples of Asia with a 
genuine desire to lead a common life of corporate endeavour in 
an atmosphere of freedom of speech and movement. There should 
be neither cultural, nor religious nor political coercion. There are 
countries with a permanent need for an outlet for their populations, 
there are others who need immigration for development of their 
resources. But those who go out to settle in other countries can 
go neither as mere temporary labourers nor as exploiters who 
intend to return with the fortunes amassed in foreign lands. Those 
who want people to come and settle may stipulate that tliey come 
to make permanent homes, shall become citizens of the new state 

53 



ERAWATI KABVE 

and ultimately fuse completely with the population of their 
home. In Burma Indians are not much liked, not because they 
were Indians but because they aped the manners of their white 
masters, behaved contemptuously with the Burmans and generally 
gave the impression of being second degree exploiters. The train- 
ing in the caste system which has kept them aloof from their own 
people at home has kept them aloof from the Burmese in Burma 
and the Malays in Malaya and this fact has been taken advantage 
of by the Western powers to create dissatisfaction and hatred for 
Indians in these lands. The Asian nations will have to agree on 
a population policy if racial discord is to be avoided in future. 

As Asians we have a common belief in the dignity of human 
beings, We do not brand man with an original sin from which he 
needs redemption. While our philosophy has been perfect as 
regards the individual men, we have neglected to give our thought 
to the salvation of men in Society. Given the spirit of tolerance 
and understanding and the fearless logic of the ancient times it 
is possible to build up a common basis for co-operative and fruitful 
union of Asian nations. However in order to achieve that each 
nation must first solve with wisdom and forbearance the cultural 
conflicts at home. This can be done if we give up the hollow 
imitation of Western power politics, cease to pay mere lip service 
to the ideal of the welfare of masses and strive courageously to 
destroy the profiteer and the Blusterer. While trying to 
industrialise our nations we need not commit all the mistakes of 
Western capitalism which has created racial conflicts far bitterer 
and cleavages far deeper than any in the history of mankind. 



PRINTED BY G. S, PRESS MADBAS 
FOR I.C. OF W.A. DELHI 10-3-47